The People Who Give Thanks

November 25, 2020

We are introduced in this week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, to our religious namesake, Judah. Jacob’s first wife, Leah, names her fourth son Judah, meaning, “I will thank Gd”. It is from this name that the Hebrews become known as the “Jewish” people. From there, we eventually are to be known as Jews, or Yehudim in Hebrew, translated as “the people who give thanks”.

Giving thanks is part of our origin story. We have for centuries shared our gratefulness for the many blessings we receive. Whether essential – life, sustenance, shelter, love – or the mundane – sunshine, a birthday gift, free time, and more – these are all external to our control and we share our thanks because that is simply the right thing to do. Our tradition of reciting at least 100 blessings per day highlights our enthusiastic commitment to share our gratitude!

This Thanksgiving, with all the challenge and suffering taking place around us, in a world where loneliness and an unnatural separation from our neighbors has become the new norm, I am reminded of the Yiddish folktale stressing the message that things could always be worse. Perspective is essential and it is critical for us to concentrate on the positives that we see, the moments of happiness we experience, and even the most minimal joys we can celebrate. So, although we might be gathering for the holiday in smaller groups (“together from afar”), let us each still find our way to show and acknowledge our personal thanks.

Lastly, one more special “thanks” goes to our special holiday bird, the turkey. Because the turkey was an animal unique to the New World, there is no mention of this bird in the Torah, and therefore it has no biblical Hebrew name. It wasn’t until the New World was discovered that this bird received its Hebrew name, the tarnegol hodu, which literally means the “rooster of thanks”. Hodu is another way of saying thanks in Hebrew, which the Puritans chose to use in honor of celebrating their religious freedom in the New World.

So, this Thanksgiving, whether you are with your extended family or not, socially distanced with your friends and neighbors or not, or whether you are one of the many celebrating the holiday virtually in front of a screen, the Jewish Federation staff, board, and volunteers encourage you to still make that list of thank yous for the things for which you can be thankful, and know that no matter what, The Jewish Federation is:

 

HERE for you.

HERE for our Community.

HERE for our future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Archive

July 31 –  Communal Responsibility

July 22 – Creating New Beauty

July 15 – Dwell Apart, Together

July 8 – Consequences of Not Listening

July 1 – Two Types of Disagreements

June 24 – Hatikvah

June 17 – Rejoicing in Your Lot

June 10 – Finding Our Peace

June 3 – The Intangible Other Half 

May 27 – Be Part of the Solution

May 20 – Attainable Summits

May 13 – Standing up to Antisemitism

May 6 – Holy Relationships

April 29 – Finding Balance and Direction

April 22 – Happy Earth Day

April 15 – Humor at the Table

April 8 – The Weight of Words

April 1 – Evaluating our Spiritual Health

March 25 – Raise Your Voice

March 18 – Learning from Failing

March 11 – Being Called Out

March 4 -Ukraine Needs Our Help

February 25 – Crisis in Ukraine

February 18 – Counting Half-Shekels

February 11 – Our Jerseys

February 4 – Giving from the Heart 

January 28 – Treating Others With Kindness

January 21 – Feeling Without Experiencing

January 14 – Taking the First Step

January 7 – Seeing in the Dark

December 30 – Change Takes Time

December 23 – To Know Someone

December 17 – Multi-Generational Lessons

December 10 – Choosing Your Attitude

December 3 – Major vs Minor

November 24 – Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander

November 19 – Leaving a Legacy

November 12 – Jacob’s Ladder

November 5 – Relationships Matter

October 29 – Setting a Higher Standard

October 22 – On Being a Jew

October 15 – Blessed vs. Blessing

October 8 – Granting Trust

October 1 – Stronger Together

September 24 – REPRINT of October 9, 2020 

September 17 – Remember the days of old

September 10 – Ten Days of Teshuvah

September 3 – Our Jewish Peoplehood

August 27 – With all thy might

August 20 – Remembering to Forget

August 13 – The Trees of the Field

August 6 – The Mission of Maintaining the Roads

July 30 – Two Ears and One Mouth

July 23 – Antisemitism From All Sides

July 16 – The Greatest Threat

July 9 – Oxymorons and Echo Chambers

July 2 – The Impact of Today’s Decisions

June 25 – Or Lagoyim: A Light Unto the Nations

June 18 – Remembering Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg z”l

June 11 – Equity, Equality, and Investing in Our Future Leaders 

June 4 – An Optimist’s Perspective

May 28 – The Gathering of Feathers

May 21 – We Must be Proactive

May 14 – Here for Israel

May 7 – Behar Behukotai

April 30 – Lessons From My Saba

April 23 – Kedushah: Rising to Holiness

April 16 – Learning Empathy from Leprosy

April 9 – Finding Our Collective Hope

April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting Antisemitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe

September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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