Thanksgiving was Established During an American Crisis. Then and Now, Judaism Teaches us to be Grateful

BY

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving during a pandemic?

The medical, financial, social and emotional challenges, coupled with the stresses we are experiencing within civil society, have made this a hard time to focus on our blessings. How can we express gratitude at a time of such difficulty?

Somehow we must. Our country is not in perfect shape, and our lives are at times unrecognizable. But we have much to be grateful for, and it’s quintessentially American — and Jewish — to express our gratitude amid hard times.

Thanksgiving was declared an American holiday by President Lincoln in 1863, while the Civil War was raging. His essential message was that during difficult times, we must not lose sight of the good. In his proclamation, Lincoln emphasized that the year had “been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.