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From Our President, December 3, 2021

12/01/2021 12:38:03 PM


Michelle Bannon

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Blessings

After finishing that 2nd piece of pie at Thanksgiving, I panicked with the realization that Hanukkah was beginning in just 3 days!  How am I going to prepare!?

But honestly, how much preparation is needed? In my house, it’s quite simple:

Menorah? Check.

Candles? Check.

Dreidel? Check.

Latkes? Thank goodness for Trader Joes!

(Disclaimer: We don’t have any small ones anxiously awaiting Hanukkah gifts, which might require venturing out on Black Friday or selecting Next day delivery on Amazon.)

I therefore had the luxury of taking time to think about both these holidays, one a purely American tradition, the other a Jewish holiday observed worldwide.

Both, interestingly, have much in common, including a basis in myth. Rather than be disappointed, I considered how much these celebrations are alike.

On Thanksgiving, we gather together to celebrate our “bounty,” all that we have.

On Hanukkah, we light the candles to recall the miracle of the oil, sufficient for only a single day but burning for 8 nights. On both holidays we take stock of our blessings and what we are thankful for, including food, shelter, family, and friends. This year they hold particular importance as we were able to join together, which we were unable to do safely a year ago.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday based on the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe feasting together in 1621 to celebrate a successful harvest. On Hanukkah, we celebrate our survival as a people and the rededication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BCE, after the Maccabean revolt. Whether the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom is a matter of debate. For many of our own families, they came to escape persecution--or worse. Others came seeking a better life and greater economic opportunities. The Pilgrims in 1621 lost many in their community due to disease but continued on. Jews have experienced numerous attempts to wipe us out as a people. The survival of both groups might be considered miracles.

Pausing to reflect on the goodness in our lives during a time of need or during this time of Covid allows us to step back from our daily routines and give thanks. This year, not only could we gather together for Thanksgiving, we can once again display our Hanukkah menorah in the window for all to see and proudly proclaim our place in this great land.

May your turkey leftovers continue to be tasty and may the lights of the Hanukkiah remind you of all your blessings and bring you peace.


Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach,


Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784