Even the most hardened Americans might concede that America has been through a lot in the last several years. Our country has been roiled by political infighting, economic uncertainty, rampant public violence, a dramatic increase in racism and antisemitism, and an apparent inability to conduct civil discourse. All of this has led to a dire threat to our civil liberties, putting democracy to the test.
Ultimately, it will be historians who reckon with the extent to which this period altered America. In the meantime, we have arrived at the holiday of Thanksgiving, nearly160 years from the day when, in the midst of Civil War, President Lincoln asked Americans to come together on the last Thursday of November to commemorate a “day of Thanksgiving.” A few years later, in 1870, Congress declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
For those of us blessed, on this historic day, to be able to gather with family and friends, there will be much to be grateful for, and much to ponder, including the luxury of being able to assemble freely and exchange ideas – something we often take for granted but is not a given in much of the world.
It can be a day steeped in emotion – a challenging, even a trying, holiday, for some. Relatives or friends who haven’t seen each other in months or years may bring their own political agendas to the table, and conversations can become heated in a matter of seconds.
The opposite can also occur: We can take a moment and be thankful for all we have been given by our creator. It can be a day to acknowledge the mysteries of life, and our appreciation for our opportunity to be alive.
Thanksgiving is also a time to consider those in need. Some in our community may volunteer on Thanksgiving Day and perform acts of tikkun olam, which in turn can remind us of our good fortune. (If only if this were to translate into acts of kindness each and every day!) Such gestures can be as simple as a phone call to a neighbor who lives alone, a ride to an appointment, or a bag of groceries for someone ill; or something more elaborate that impacts our larger community and its institutions.
Here at the Jewish Journal, we continue to connect our community in good times and in bad. And as a community, we are facing daily antisemitism, social media networks that have no guardrails, and political and popular culture working to normalize Jew-hatred. At a minimum, these influences make us ponder our own identify and how our society is changing. And this why it’s more important than ever to have a publication like the Jewish Journal that reflects our community.
We can’t do it alone, though, and we need your support. On this day of thanks, please consider a voluntary $72 donation (the actual cost of each subscription) – or more – so we can continue our mission.
From our staff, and our Board of Overseers, we wish you a happy and meaningful holiday. Θ