Letters: In the spirit of Chanukah and Thanksgiving

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Shortly, we will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year, the second candle of Chanukah and Thanksgiving fall on the same night and is affectionately being referred to as Thanksgivukkah. For the Jewish community, this rare occurrence provides the opportunity to renew and deepen our understanding of both holidays.

In years when Chanukah occurs close to Christmas, the message of Chanukah can be overshadowed by the trappings of the December Dilemma. But this year, Chanukah and Thanksgiving occurring together serves to amplify a sense of appreciation of the freedoms we as Americans enjoy and a profound sense of gratitude for the earth’s bounty.

When we sit down for our Thanksgiving meal, let us shift our focus from merely eating to mindfulness of the blessings in our lives. When we celebrate Chanukah, let’s shift our focus from merely gift-giving and cherish and celebrate the power and importance of religious freedom.

Daily Jewish prayer at its core is an expression of gratitude. Each time we eat, we pause before and after to recognize the privilege and Sacred gift of being sustained. Throughout the day, Judaism guides us to express amazement at every extraordinary moment. We hope to be aware of the Sacred in our lives and live accordingly, informed by humility and respect.

Expressing gratitude and thanksgiving lays the foundation for sacred living, making it possible to encounter the Divine. The ability to express thanksgiving guides us to act with responsibility, cultivating moral and ethical imperatives for living in balance with others and the universe.

Our Annual Hanukah Happening (Nov. 23, 12:30-2:30pm) with Hanukah activities, games, booths, arts/crafts, prizes, gifts and lots of latkes, is a fun way to start the Thanksgivukkah week!

After Thanksgivukkah, on Fri., Nov. 29 at 7:30pm we hold our annual Chanukah Community Candle Lighting Service, storytelling, & singing, with our doors open to all who chose to join us. Be transported into the miracle of the holiday through an evening of storytelling by the glow of the Chanukah lights. Bring your own menorah and share the magic of hundreds of lights glowing as we sing and celebrate as a community!

May our Chanukah and Thanksgiving traditions inspire us to render the gathering of Thanksgivukkah to live up to the finest impulse of our religious and American teachings.

Rabbi Yael Romer
Temple Emanuel, Kingston

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