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A Thanksgiving Message

Ben Zoma said:

Who is rich? He who rejoices in his lot, as it is said: “You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors, you shall be happy and you shall prosper” (Psalms 128:2) …Who is he that is honored? He who honors his fellow human beings…

Pirke Avot 4:1

In as much as Judaism is a religious practice, it is remarkable for its insistence to be present to the blessings that surround us at this time of year and always. Certainly the celebration of Thanksgiving has a Jewish bend; it is said that the Puritans were modeling their celebration after Sukkot, our harvest festival. They believed their journey across the ocean was similar to the Israelites at the Red Sea, and that the trials they faced had brought them to the promised land.

This isn’t to say that our world and our lives don’t have pain or challenge, they do. It is simply the recognition that even in the midst of difficult times, we are blessed by the ordinary: a beating heart, a warm fragrant rain, a flower transplanted by the wind. That recognition must be a clarion call, to be a light to the nations by answering those who are struggling. The only way to truly say thank you is to be of service to our fellow human being.

Our beloved Rabbi Schaalman was pivotal in setting up a pantry in the Edgewater community called Care for Real. According to Gregory Gross, their executive director, the pantry is “experiencing a surge in need for food assistance, after more than 50,000 pantry visits so far in 2021, compared to 35,000 during the same period in 2020. The organization distributes food to approximately 140-200 families in need, 6 days a week. You can help Care for Real provide this fresh and nutritious food by signing up to volunteer! With opportunities available Monday-Saturday between 8:30am-4pm and until 7pm on Thursdays, there's something for every member of our special community. Sign up for a shift today by visiting or sending an email to” Children over the age of 16 are able to get involved as well.

May this time of Thanksgiving compel you to take stock of even the smallest blessing. And may the contentment from the myriad of gifts galvanize you to do more to be sure others feel a sense of contentment too.

- Cantor Shelly Drucker Friedman


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