Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day for families of all religions to gather and, as the holidays suggests, give thanks. It’s bound to no particular religion – anyone can celebrate. It’s the model of a truly inclusive holiday. But we are not the only ones to view the holiday in this light. Rabbi Ben Kamin wrote a piece for the website Examiner.com titled “It’s the one true holiday, bigger than religion.” In it, he says “Thanksgiving liberates us from specific theological claims and allows us to contemplate the common creed of gratitude. In a way, it’s the only pure holiday.”
He makes an interesting point. Thanksgiving is an American holiday – free from any particular religion tint. It’s the calm before the Hanukkah/Christmas storm. In that sense, we are able to focus completely on family and togetherness. But the message of the holiday shouldn’t disappear like a plate of pumpkin pie. Rabbi Kamin writes:
Thanksgiving allows all the religions to share inclusive spiritual nourishment. Soon enough, some of our children will return to college, the homeless will return to lonely desperation, and many of us will regress to the mercantile madness of the December holidays. Jewish parents will fret again about the proliferation of Christmas symbols and images while both Jews and Christians will forget to infuse the subsequent holidays with the ethical symmetry that Thanksgiving gives us for now.
Jews, remember what you feel tomorrow when you light the Chanukah lights in a few weeks. Christians, recall Thursday’s spiritual equity when you light the candles of the Advent wreath. At Thanksgiving, there are no politics in religion. There is only one table set for God.
Thanksgiving reminds us that we can all come together and find a common ground for celebration and unity. Let’s remember that message as we enter not just the upcoming holiday season, but every day that follows. From all of us at JOI, Happy Thanksgiving!