Giving Thanks In Judaism

November 28, 2019
International Sh’lichim


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הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

Give thanks to the Lord for G-d is good, for G-d's kindness endures forever.

The notion of gratitude is so central to Judaism that versions of this verse appear over ten times in Psalms. Not only that, but the very word “Jew” has its etymological roots in the opening word of this verse, Hodu—to give thanks. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that we celebrate two dozen “Thanksgivings” in our annual calendar. We celebrate:

Eight days of Passover to give thanks for being liberated from Egypt

Eight days of Sukkot to give thanks for food and shelter in the desert

Eight days of Hanukkah to give thanks for the victory over the Hellenist Greeks and the rededication of the Temple

One day of Purim to give thanks for surviving a Persian genocide attempt

However, Thanksgiving is different. Though it is an American holiday, in many countries around the world we can be grateful for the liberties, privileges, and freedoms to identify and practice as proud Jews (with an acknowledgment of the responsibility this accords us to help our brothers and sisters in places where this is not the case). On Thanksgiving, we put aside our religious and political differences to stand together in solidarity with our neighbors and offer a heartfelt “thank you” for all the good things in our lives.

Many Thanksgiving prayers have been composed to celebrate this great day. We invite you to try the one below or write your own and share it with the rest of your community.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

By Rabbi Naomi Levy

For the laughter of the children,

For my own life breath,

For the abundance of food on this table,

For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,

For the roof over our heads,

The clothes on our backs,

For our health,

And our wealth of blessings,

For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,

For the freedom to pray these words

Without fear,

In any language,

In any faith,

In this great country,

Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.

Thank You, God, for giving us all these.  Amen.

From Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (Alfred A. Knopf, New York); used with permission of the author, who is the spiritual leader of Nashuva in Los Angeles and also the author of To Begin Again.

From the current Grand Aleph Shaliach and International Sh'licha.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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