After catching Frum Satire‘s “Frum Jews don’t celebrate Thanksgiving” video in my Twitter feed on Sunday, I felt compelled to do some learning and figure out if there was an answer to the question that popped up in my head: all jokes aside, is it ok for Jews to celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thank. goodness. for. Google. A quick search of “is Thanksgiving kosher” (yes, adding ‘kosher’ to your Google search really is the easiest way to figure out if something is halakhically acceptable or not*) and “can Jews celebrate Thanksgiving” lead to a wealth of discussions on the topic. Glad to know I’m not the only one trying to figure out if I can dig into my turkey and cranberries without feeling Jewish guilt…
For a great summary of three Orthodox positions on the question (and taking it further to mean “can Jews celebrate Thanksgiving and eat the traditional meal of turkey with cranberry sauce?”), head to “Is Thanksgiving Kosher?” at MyJewishLearning.com. Or, if you’d rather do your learning while washing dishes or folding laundry, you can listen to this YU Torah Online session with Rabbi David Horwitz. Really cool to see how most of them arrive at the same place (yes, it’s ok) but with different reasoning and caveats.
The Union for Reform Judaism doesn’t specifically say ‘yes, it’s ok’ on their website but with a quick scan, I found a few resources to help “bring Jewish values to the table” and some Rituals for Thanksgiving on the RJ.org blog.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has a great piece by Rabbi Jerome Epstein on bringing the holiday home and a piece that suggests reading Psalm 100 (Mizmor L’Todah A Psalm of Thanksgiving) at your holiday table, “as it was recited in the Temple when a thanksgiving offering was made.”
I’m sure there are many, many more discussions on the topic and I’m pretty sure I’ll get a little obsessed and keep Googling away. In the meantime, let’s all dish:
Can/Should Jews celebrate Thanksgiving? Is there anything you do to include Jewish traditions into your Thanksgiving celebration? How the heck do you save room for Shabbat dinner the day after the Great Turkey Chow Down? Stuffing in the bird or out? And, am I the only one who just discovered that you shouldn’t brine a kosher turkey?
*Other than asking your local rabbi, of course!