As November arrives, don’t shy away from giving thanks

Dear Families,
Last week I shared a blessing for voting and perhaps some used it during early voting or are saving it for Nov. 8!
Jewish life has a blessing for everything. Children love the fact that we have to say a different blessing for each food and experience — it is a game. Many of the adults I teach ask why we can’t just have one “catchall” blessing.
Today much is being written on the value of gratitude in helping us to truly see what we have to be thankful for in this world. To say, “I’m thankful for everything I have” is good but to actually point to each and every thing that we have in our lives will take anyone out of feeling bad! Saying a blessing does that — and to say 100 blessings each day (as the rabbis commanded) magnifies how fortunate we are!
Now that I have passed on a blessing for voting, here is another that I found on this website — The book On the Doorposts of Your House is filled with prayers for every occasion and includes some new Jewish blessings. (Have a conversation on adding new blessings and liturgy to your Jewish practice — is that OK? Why? How do you feel about adding something that you or your family have created using the forms of Jewish prayer but with a twist?)
So here is the new blessing that hopefully you will use (although not on a daily basis — it isn’t allowed!). It is a blessing to use before donating blood:
Baruch eloheinu asher natan lanu may-chachmato v’hishpiah aleinu laazor livnay adam b’orach chayeinu v’af motaynu. Praised be our God who gives us wisdom and encourages us to help others by our way of living and in our dying.
The article did not suggest that this be said when you sign on as an organ donor but the thought came to mind as giving blood is done when we are alive and donating organs happens usually after death. Whenever you use this blessing, it is yet another way to make every act a spiritual moment.
We have entered the month of Cheshvan — a month with no Jewish holidays (except, of course, Shabbat). Thanksgiving is not a Jewish holiday but we can definitely make it a Jewish experience for our family. Every family has different traditions — perhaps this year, you can ask each person at the table to create a new blessing and use the traditional format in every Jewish blessing — “Baruch atah …” Being thankful is definitely a Jewish thing so find or create ways to bring the spiritual into your life in many moments.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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