Gratitude, the feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, can be easy when experiencing a simcha (happy occasion). But it is no less important during our toughest moments. When we lose a loved one, many of us say Kaddish. In this moment of grief, we say, “Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted and extolled, honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He.” 

This may seem counterintuitive, and yet Jewish culture teaches that in moments of pain, fear and instability, a gratitude practice can help us cope. As we incorporate it into our own self-care, gratitude can play a large role in healing, both physically and mentally. For those living with depression or other mental illnesses, it can be even more important — especially right now, when many of us remain isolated from others. 

In the Torah, Leah gives birth to her son and says “I will give thanks to Adonai.” Odeh et Adonai. In Hebrew, the root letters of odeh (אודה) — “I will give thanks” — form the basis of the name Leah chooses for her son: Yehudah (יהודה). In English, we translate Yehudah to “Judah,” the root of “Judaism.” 

With her choice, Leah teaches us our greatest Jewish responsibility is to seek moments of thankfulness. When we do, we recognize the holy potential of our world and our ability to bring more of it into people’s lives. (Adapted from the article  To Be a Jew is to Give Thanks-By Definition,  originally published in the Huffington Post.)

So how can we begin to infuse gratitude into our daily lives?

Service Section: Prayers of Celebration & Gratitude