The month of Cheshvan — no Jewish holidays! However, Thanksgiving is coming!
There is a lot to prepare for from the food to the decorations to the family and friends invitations and more. As we prepare, we need to think about what the holiday is really all about. Yes, it is an American holiday but there are definite Jewish values in this holiday of thankfulness. An important Jewish value is “hakarat hatov” — recognizing benefits afforded us and giving expression to our appreciation.” Note that there are two parts of this value — we must first recognize what we are thankful for and then “give expression.”
Part 1: there is so much to be thankful for if we open our eyes and look around. It helps to make a list. With our children at J Camps and Early Childhood Center, we play a game — “Go on a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.” Here are some thing to get your list started:
- Something in nature.
- Something that makes a beautiful sound.
- Something that tastes good.
- Something that smells amazing.
- Something that is older than you are.
- Something that you have just learned.
- Something that makes you laugh.
- Something that makes you cry.
- Something that makes you strong.
- Something that you would like to share with others.
For those of you who love music, download Craig Taubman’s Modeh Ani. This prayer is said every morning on waking up — we are thankful for waking! The song is great but we use it as a “fill in the blank” with the children — “Modeh Ani, I am thankful for … .” It is a simple and easy song to learn — so wake up singing.
Part 2: Giving expression to our appreciation — why is it necessary to see it and then say it? There are many answers to that question that you can talk about but speaking it out loud (or writing it down) makes it real! It is also a way to share with others that you are thankful and that helps us all to hear it!
So get ready for Thanksgiving by making your list and counting your many blessings!!
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.