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Quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Ten Ways to Make Thanksgiving Meaningful, Fun and American!
1. Make giving thanks fun: As guests arrive, ask them to write on cards what they are most thankful for in the past year. Collect the cards and read from them at several points during the meal. (On video, send chat messages to host). Guess who wrote each one.
2. Tell YOUR American story: Tell stories about the founding of America, and then share the story of how and why your own family came to be in this country.
3.Start a new tradition: Have everyone sign a Thanksgiving book that will stay in your family. Take a picture of the whole gathering and put it in the book (or in an online journal) to share and revisit over the years.
4. Showcase family strengths: Ask a lawyer to discuss her favorite amendment to the Bill of Rights, a psychologist to talk about constitutional rights, a businesswoman to share how recent laws have impacted her business, a third-grader to teach what he learned about the pilgrims and Native Americans, the oldest member of the family to discuss his first voting experience.
5. Donate to charity: Collect a small donation from every guest and let the oldest children or a special guest decide where the funds will go. You can also use the opportunity to discuss the symbols on the dollar bill. (See p. 28 of the Full Ceremony.)
6. Sing! Everyone loves the great Thanksgiving songs of gratitude and gathering. Encourage your guests to join in an old-fashioned sing- along. Pass on American songs you love to your kids and grandkids.
7. Remember the earth: Take the opportunity of celebrating the harvest to discuss ways that Americans can better help to take care of the earth and all of its natural resources.
8. Involve everyone: We all enjoy what we help to create. Invite others to help convene virtually or cook, shop, decorate and clean up. Put out crayons and drawing paper to keep young children entertained during zoom or dinner. Or bring out the kid in everyone. Use parcel paper for your tablecloth and put out crayons for all your guests. Recycle and reuse as much as possible.
9. Consider the global world we live in: Hang maps of the U.S. and the world. Have guests mark all the places they've visited in years past. Talk about what people learned from their travels. Or mark all the places people have lived. Talk about the differences
and similarities between states or countries.
10. Reflect on America’s freedoms: As America’s most universally celebrated holiday, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on what makes our nation special and to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. Go around the table and ask guests to complete the phrase, “I am thankful for America’s Freedoms because...”
Fill a glass with wine or grape juice. The word kiddush, means holy. This moment, just before we take a sip, will only happen once. Savor it as you say this blessing, then drink.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Whether you’re spending this Thanksgiving alone or with others, use this blessing to send a message of love and peace to those you care about.
May you feel love and security wherever you go.
May you radiate with light and gratitude throughout your days.
May a spirit of amazement reside within you always, and may you find peace.
(adapted from the blessing for children)
Thanksgiving Prayer by Rabbi Naomi Levy
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen.
Wandering has been part of Jewish history since Biblical times. Early in the Torah, we read Lech Lecha, a portion all about Abraham leaving his father’s house. During Sukkot, we physically remember our 40 years of wandering in the desert between Egypt and Israel. Today, many Jews live in communities far from where their ancestors dwelled. Our relationship to land has often been temporary, subject to the whims of others.
As we have wandered, we have arrived on lands once, or still home, to indigenous people. Sukkot, a holiday closely tied to agriculture, land and thanksgiving, is an opportunity to learn about, honor and recognize those who first inhabited these places. In the US, November is Native American Heritage Month, making it another opportunity to learn the history and the present of Native communities.
Dedicate one night of Sukkot or the month of November to researching native peoples who lived in your community, acknowledging their existence and honoring their contributions. What were the names of their tribes? What happened to them historically? Who are the current leaders of that indigenous community? Seek out books, podcasts, artwork or stories by and about indigenous people.
Ready to host your own land acknowledgement? Start by going to Native Land (www.native-land.ca) to learn the names of the tribes who have lived in your community. Then visit #HonorNativeLand (https://usdac.us/nativeland) to download a land acknowledgement guide and print colorful posters designed by native artists to hang in your sukkah.
From Seeker Season Guidebook for the Curious & Courageous: https://highholidaysathome.com/haggadah/seeker-season
No touch football this Thanksgiving? No problem! Here are is a Zoom game that everyone can play! Just like with real-life games, it’s helpful if someone volunteers to be the organizer/leader in advance to help keep things moving!
TWO SCAVENGER HUNTS! ONE WILL HAVE YOU RUNNING AROUND YOUR HOUSE AND THE OTHER WILL HAVE YOU GOOGLING LIKE CRAZY!
IN REAL LIFE SCAVENGER HUNT:
Below is a list of items you might have in your house. You may be thinking, “Sure I have them, but who the heck knows where they are?” The winner of the scavenger hunt, that’s who!
• If you are the leader, don’t share the list until it’s time to play.
• Tell everyone that they have 11 minutes to run and find the items and bring them back to the screen.
• Every item found means a point for that team. Yes, a team (could exist of one person).
• The winning team is the one with the most points!
• Feel free to make your own or add to the list of items below.
1. A soup ladle
2. A 2007 coin
3. A two-dollar bill or a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar
4. Two different kinds of hand sanitizer
5. “I voted” sticker
6. Shekels (Israeli money)
7. A photo from anyone’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah (if it’s on your phone, that counts)
8. A copy of a physical newspaper
9. A Hanukkah menorah
10. Three shabbat candles
11. Rubber gloves (any kind)
VIRTUAL SCAVENGER HUNT:
• Each household is a team, or you can have multiple teams in a household. For this one, individuals might want to be their own team.
• Put all the groups on mute otherwise, they are going to tell the other teams the answers.
• If you are the leader, don’t share the list until it’s time to play.
• Tell everyone that they have 11 minutes to find the answers to as many
of the questions as they can. If they know the answer, great, if not, use google!
• The team that has the most right answers at the end of the 11 minutes wins!
• If you want, make up your own questions!
1. Where was Maimonides born?
2. Who has more Instagram followers, Julia Louis Dreyfuss or Adam Sandler?
3. Name three ingredients that are in gefilte fish.
4. Which of these fashion designers is not Jewish? Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, Kenneth Cole, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, or Diane von Furstenberg?
5. Name five celebrities that were in JewBelong’s ‘Sins, Stars and Shofars!‘
6. Name three traditional foods you eat during Hanukkah.
7. What is fracking?
8. Which president was famous for not liking broccoli?
9. Name two reality TV stars that were in ‘Sins, Stars and Shofars!’
10. Which team won the 2011 Super Bowl?
11. When did the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade start?
12. Which US president did not want to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday?
13. What is a turkey trot?
14. What are the football games usually played on Thanksgiving?
15. What are the three largest full marathons run annually in Israel?
16. Since 1970 on the last Thursday in November, people gather near Plymouth Rock
to commemorate a National Day of Mourning. Why?
17. Why do many people eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
18. Do turkeys (the bird) have anything to do with Turkey (the country)? If so, what?
Sukkot, the fall harvest holiday, blends our gratitude for a bountiful harvest, our awareness of the fragility and vulnerability of all life, and our ancient communal memory of leaving Egypt to travel in the desert under God’s protection. This prayer-poem connects those themes to the astounding human rights accomplishments of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and can be used for Sukkot or for Thanksgiving, its American parallel.
For the Workers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Their Allies
Once a year,
the Israelites marked their journey out of Egypt
by offering up the first fruits of their harvest.
They brought up the bounty
and would declare,
“In Egypt, we were afflicted with harsh bondage.
And we cried unto G-d, who heard our call,
who saw our suffering and delivered us.”
As if to say, with every harvest we remember.
As if to say, today I am a worker, not a slave.
Our ancestors held up barley,
told a freedom story,
a bondage-breaking story,
a “Once we were seen as bodies,
today we grow food with free hands” story.
Today we lift up a just-harvest
from the fields of Immokalee, Florida.
Where workers declare
“We were afflicted.”
Where workers declare
on their own terms.
Where forced labor and stolen wages were the norm
but where a great cry was heard,
the sound of uprising,
in meeting and marches.
with people power .
May we rise
to join with the workers
living a freedom story,
a bondage-breaking story.
Let us lift up the bounty
Let us answer their call in our time.
And let us bless the Source of Life, the fertile earth, and the workers who grew and harvested this food. Blessed is the cycle of growth and renewal.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are you, Source of Life, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Gratitude and Action for a Just World from American Jewish World Service