Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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Thoughts on Thanksgiving

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

For those who live in the US, this week (Thursday) is the national holiday of Thanksgiving. This past Shabbat, at the kiddush I was having a discussing with a Ben Noach (a non-Jewish Noachide who comes regularly to our shul, which is an interesting story of it's own). He asked me if I would be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, noting that HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l and the posek hador of chutz la'aretz in the previous generation, poskins in Iggeret Moshe that one may celebrate Thanksgiving (no concerns of halachic inappropriateness.)

I responded that while Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, with a nation taking a moment to show appreciation for the blessings received, my holiday and cultural schedule is already very full and while I appreciate the opportunities of the US very much, I would not be celebrating the holiday. I noted a moment of community sharing, as I read the Crown Heights community council was giving out free kosher turkeys to community residents (of any faith).

First, I was stunned that a ben noach was quoting Iggeret Moshe to me. What I didn't want to explicitly point out is that, part of battling assimilation is making sure that I focus my family upon our culture, Jewish culture, and that specifically requires deemphasizing the local culture. Thanksgiving is one of the nicest American holidays, yet while in America, I will not celebrate it.

(Though my wife notes that 1/2 price kosher turkeys are definitely appreciated, and make a wonderful Shabbat meal for the large family.)

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