As someone who loves to eat and is proud to be an American, I would never be the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving. But I confess. I have not been swept up in the whirlwind excitement over Thanksgivukkah. The last time Chanukah occurred around this season was 1861, but President Lincoln only declared Thanksgiving an official holiday in 1863.
There was a time, not that long age, when Thanksgiving opened the season of giving. Now it opens up the season of buying. Black Friday and Cyber Monday now define this time of the year. It is of course wonderful to give and receive gifts to and from friends and relatives. We should be happy as Americans to see consumerism strong in a time where our economy is so challenged. Nonetheless, something is being lost in the shuffle.
Sol Adler, executive director of the 92nd Street Y, got special delight out of paying some bills on the Chase Bank website on Sunday — before logging off, he noticed an announcement for “Giving Tuesday,” a national program under the Y’s auspices that will start next week.
Some people joke that Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday, is also the ideal Jewish festival. After all, it’s about family, food, time off from work, and without those many hours in the synagogue.
As I walked down the hall of my synagogue towards my office earlier this week, I was distracted by the happy sounds of young children having themselves a very good time. I detoured into the room where our Nursery School had gathered for a “holiday feast,” and everyone- faculty and children- was in costume. There were Pilgrims, and Native Americans, and even a few turkeys thrown in for good measure. I couldn’t help but smile- such a sweet scene!
Perhaps at no time more than Halloween am I struck by the huge chasm between Orthodox/traditional Conservative Jews and the rest of us.
Among most of my Jewish family and friends, there has never been even a question of whether or not to join other Americans in dressing up in costume, carving a jack-o-lantern and trick-or-treating. Halloween is a fun holiday and of course we partake.