Enduring Holiday


From history we learn that every people that ever remained long enough in one area to plant seeds and reap a crop has had a harvest festival. It has seemed worthy to celebrate that there was enough to eat. In many parts of the world today there would be also celebrations if there would be just enough to eat. But there is not.

As we shall celebrate tomorrow another American Thanksgiving Day, it is pertinent to remember that “turkey day” is not just another harvest festival. Surely, it is in the tradition to feast on that day, but it is also in the tradition, ever more importantly, TO GIVE THANKS. Very unfortunately, every time we do this there will be those who ask, “What is there for us to be thankful for?” This year the number of those to ask this question might be larger than last year, perhaps there is nothing this year, but there may be much in some years to come. There will be also those who restless turbulence, out of pessimism, even despair, “What is there in the world to be thankful for?” Men have died and are dying day for day in battles, millions are hungry, hate and suspicions separate nations that call themselves united, and fear like a night that came at noon, overshadows our hearts, our minds, the earth.

Just the same, we give thanks. Thanksgiving Day has survived over years of foreboding, of wars, of disaster. It has survived worse years, years of drought, of unemployment, of depression. This year the fields have been full but it does not look very much like Peace. Nevertheless, best of all is the justified and growing hope that there will be peace, that our men shall come home, that freedom and justice may yet come into full bloom.

But whatever comes, the spirit of Thanksgiving will never die. It is traditionally American, as it is deeply Christian and Jewish. No sorrow, no disaster, no defeat can kill that spirit. For this let us be thankful!

David J. Matzner

Rabbi, Beth Israel Congregation{&end}