Author Archives: Esther Kustanowitz

Live from the Lilith Blog

November 23, 2017 by

Why Jews Shouldn’t Stress About Thanksgiving

1200px-TraditionalThanksgivingIt seems like you’ve just recovered from the lightning round of Jewish holidays – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Sukkot, Sukkot, Sukkot, Sukkot, Sukkot, Sukkot (did I get all the Sukkot days in there?), Shmini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, and a collection of four or so Shabbatot – when you start seeing pilgrims and turkeys everywhere, and people start long text message chains about who is and isn’t coming “home” for Thanksgiving. The prospect of cooking a massive meal – AGAIN – isn’t something you have a lot of strength for. But here are five reasons why you – as a person who observed Jewish holidays a mere four weeks ago – shouldn’t stress over Thanksgiving.

1. You’ve already been through basic training. The Jewish holidays was your 80s training montage: rapid-fire holidays, coordinated menus, and if you’re observant of holiday restrictions, you’ve likely been trapped in the house or in synagogue for days on end. Thanksgiving is only a few hours long, you’re not racing any setting suns or candle lighting times or anything. People come, they eat, they leave. It’s the easiest holiday you’ll observe all year.

2. Provides opportunities for secular and halakhic debates. Are we celebrating the pillaging of a land and the slaughter of its indigenous people with every bite of cranberry sauce? Do you say Hallel – a prayer only traditionally said on Jewish holidays of celebration – on Thanksgiving? Do you add “shir hama’alot” to grace after meals? Is turkey even kosher? Just because it’s an American holiday doesn’t mean you can’t argue with your fellow Jews about it. And if those are boring, here’s one I just made up: kosher marshmallows are often made with fish gelatin; can you serve a marshmallow-and-sweet-potatoes dish at the same meal as a turkey? And what if there’s also beef? Do you need a separate fork to not mix poultry or meat with fish? Confused? Perfect – that’s how you know it’s working.

3. The election was last year. What this hopefully means is that political clashes will be fewer this year than they were last year, so everyone can focus their energy on spotlight issues like sexual harassment and assault, Twitter moving to 280 characters, and criticizing your family’s single or most financially unstable members. (That last one was a joke. Please don’t. I ALREADY TOLD YOU, I HAVEN’T MET THE RIGHT PERSON AND I’M A FREELANCER!!!)

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