Jews Have Much to be Thankful For.

Jewish law (Halacha) permits American Jews to celebrate Thanksgiving because it is a secular holiday. Furthermore, "giving thanks" has always been an important part of Judaism, from reciting blessings after meals to the pilgrimate festival of Sukkot.

Thanksgiving evokes warm associations--a Norman Rockwell "Freedom from Want" photograph, a midweek vacation from work, "meshpocheh" (family) and friends gathering, an abundance of "geshmak" (delicious tasting) food, and football.

This year, "Ver volt dos geglaibt?" (Who would believe it?), Hanukkah begins at sundown the day after Thanksgiving.

  • According to the American Jewish Committee, we have a million reasons to be thankful. Perhaps you'll agree with my reasons:
  • The God Squad (Rabbi Marc Gellman and Msgr. Thomas Hartman);
  • Mandy Patinkin, Tovah Feldshuh, Bruce Adler, and Zalman Mlotek, who are part of "Yiddish in America," the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring;
  • The National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass.;
  • "OY!"--six short plays by Rich Orloff;
  • Dennis Prager, the Jewish social critic and scholar;
  • KitchenAid wall ovens with a Sabbath Mode feature;
  • Shabbat services and glatt kosher cuisine on the passenger ship, Crown Odyssey;
  • George Kalinsky's photos of 100 rabbis--from bearded old-worlders to clean-shaven karate champs;
  • Rabbi Bob Alper's humor;
  • Camp Ramah;
  • Ravens Stadium, which offers the first kosher food stand in an NFL stadium;
  • the Toronto Jewish Film Festival at the Bloor Cinema.
  • Corrections that appear in The New York Times:
  • 9/20/98 - "...It was Fiddler on the Roof, not from 'Der Yiddisher H.M.S. Pinafore.'"
  • 9/25/2002 - "An article about a visit by Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman to a Jewish community center in Florida misattributed a Yiddish greeting. It was Mr. Lieberman, not Mr. Gore, who said, 'Shalom Aleichem.' Mr. Gore said, 'Mazel Tov.'"
  • And thanks to Rae Meltzer ("Yiddish Wisdom for Marriage") for the Yiddish expression,
    "A man darf nit zayn hoykh tsu zayn groys"--A husband doesn't have to be tall to be great;
  • Cartoonist, Rich Tennan ("The 5th Wave") for this caption, "Your latkes need work. The children are mistaking them for dreidels."';
  • Mitchell Davis, for his definition of "Glatt Traif"--Really traif (i.e., ham and cheese on Matzo. You're really going straight to hell.);
  • Mrs. Ida Pincus, who said, "Stand by your mensch."
  • Thanks for kosher food served at any Walt Disney World restaurant (if ordered at least 24 hours in advance);
  • www.matchmaker.com , the Jewish mother of the online dating scene;
  • apples dipped in honey;
  • KlezKamp:
  • The Yiddish Folk Arts Program;
  • Craig Taubman's album, "My Newish Jewish Discovery";
  • The National Jewish Committee on Scouting (NJCS);
  • Elderhostels offering courses like "The Mystery And Magic Of The 'Bubbe Mayseh!" and "I Do,I Did, Wow--Did I!"--the legal aspects of separation, divorce, and remarriage;
  • The Third Bi-Annual Yiddishkeit Festival at the University of Judaism;
  • An article by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann titled, "Kosher Chickens: From Coop to Soup."
    Thanks for Mah-Jongg Menorahs;
  • The movie, Dirty Dancing";
  • Pasken & Rabbis "Oy Vey Iz Mirachino Cherry" ice cream;
  • "Zen Judaism" by David M. Bader ("Make room for the spirit of the Buddha at your dinner table. At Passover make room for the prophet Elijah, too. And that's it. Two invisible guests are enough.");
  • Dr. Mel Levine, who said, "No mind should have to beg to differ.";
  • The CD, "Nu?!? From Sue: Fun Jewish Songs Little Kids Love to Sing";
  • Flash Rosenberg, who believes that many quote have grown a bit shabby.
    Ex. "If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet." (Isaac Bashevis Singer)
    Quote repair: "If you keep saying you need a profit, you have a good chance of doing bad things."
  • Thanks for signs which read, "Friends Don't Let Friends Pay Retail";
  • Yiddish curses ("May your blood turn to whiskey, so that a hundred bedbugs get drunk on it and dance the mazurka in your belly button.");
  • Arnold Fine;
  • "Oil of Oy Vey"--a facial lotion made for Jewish women;
  • Grandchildren named "Shana-Punim-Kenahorah-Poo-Poo-Poo";
  • Sadie the Matchmaker at 1-866-BASHERT;
  • Judith Resnick, the first Jewish astronaut;
  • Bernard S. Raskas, who wrote that "The real test of a good housewife is NOT what she serves on Thanksgiving Day, but how she handles leftover turkey;
  • Accurate weather forecasts: "Snow, followed by a yungermantshik with a sled"; the "Birthright Israel" plan; Jewish comedian, John Priest ("Half my family is Russian Jews and the other half is Bronx Jews. So I grew up hearing half my family telling me how they got chased by Cossacks and the other half telling me how they got chased by Yankee fans on bat day.");
  • Ian Greenberg, a 70-year- old Jewish philanthropist, who donated $1 million to provide Viagra to the poor.
  • Thanks to Rabbi Shar Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa, who issued a ruling that anyone using Viagra for the purposes of having children is fulfilling a positive commandment;
  • Steven Spielberg, for helping start a digital library to preserve Yiddish books;
  • Rabbi Abraham J. T. Werski;
  • Michelle Kennedy, who wrote, "...Don't send Martha Stewart to jail. Send her to the mall with only $200 to her name and four hungry kids who whine for toys but need school clothes. Add to that a car payment on a used minivan (instead of a $42,000 Range Rover) and a husband with a golf fetish, and see how she gets along...Ahh, wouldn't that be a good thing?";
  • Federal Prison, Camp Otisville, where prisoners perks include a kosher kitchen, weekly Shabbat observances, and, during Passover, participation in a Seder;
  • Thanks to "Zaka," the Jerusalem-based rescue and recovery unit;
  • Rabbi Alvin Kass, chief chaplain of the New York Fire Dept.;
  • The "2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook";
  • Kinehora bindels (red ribbons), to keep away the evil eyes;
  • The new skinny on pickup lines: "This Jew has a BMW Z8 - and a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18.";
  • Esther Jungreis, Founder of the outreach organization, Hineni;
  • Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), who accepted his Emmy award and said, "I just hope this award breaks down the door for Jewish people who are trying to break into show business";
  • Rabbi Avi M. Schulman's 70 Things a Jew Should Do in Life:
    #39 Learn to curse in Yiddish
    #34 Slug down a shot of Sivovitz after an early morning minyan
    #48 Own a Sandy Koufax baseball card;
  • Exercise classes at the Y ("arof-shtup"--push up); the lady behind me in synagogue who sings "Adon Olam" off key, because it means that I can hear; Jackie Mason's "Prune Danish, Always Fresh - Never Stale";
  • Home Depot (in Arlington, VA), for offering a FREE class on how to build a Sukkah;
  • Seminar titled, "God-(W)rapping, where a speaker linked the poetic image of a Jewish prayer shawl with a military parachute;
  • FREE calendars from the kosher butcher, or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida) or other Jewish funeral home;
  • "Project Onkelos," a massive project to provide side-by-side Yiddish-English translations of important texts.
  • Thanks to Nicholas Winton, the Schindler of Britain, who rescued 669 Czech children from their doomed fate in the Nazi death camps;
  • Aaron Sorkin, producer of "The West Wing";
  • Miriam Weinstein's book, "Yiddish - A Nation of Words";
  • "Red tsu mir Yiddish" (Speak Yiddish To Me), a poem by Jacob Glatstein;
  • The movie, "Shanghai Ghetto," a good primer for students ignorant of pre-World War II and the Holocaust; and, finally,
  • "Haikus For Jews" by David M. Bader:
    Testing the warm milk
    on her wrist, she beams--
    nice, but her son is forty.

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