As we are drawn into the excitement of Thanksgiving, we remind ourselves that this same holiday is celebrated in Montreal on a Monday in October. Frequently it would coincide with either Sukkot or Simchat Torah and if not, other than giving people a free day, few would celebrate it.
This year, as we look forward to getting together with our family to partake in the usual gluttonous feast, we are especially aware of the atrocities facing our family in Eretz Yisrael. Each person living in Israel should be considered a relative.
Do we go ahead and celebrate while others are living through each day with fear? Do we have a right to be joyful while the Schwartz family in Sharon is sitting shiva for their son Ezra? In fact, we all are faced each day with horrendous news confronting friends and family that we are close with. Illness and death are just two horrors that we hear about each day. If it is not someone we know closely it is about someone that we know of indirectly, and we as Jews have the sensitivity and caring abilities to hurt with others even if they are not closely related to us.
We believe that, yes, we do absolutely go ahead and celebrate. We are more than fortunate and appreciative that we have a homeland that we can consider our own. We should be celebrating the heroism of everyday Israelis who are going on with their lives. We should be applauding the young adults who are protecting our country in the IDF. We should be more understanding of the complexities of being a member of the Israeli government. Instead of criticizing them we should stand beside whatever decisions they are making. We should be celebrating the knowledge we have that there is a homeland waiting for us to return to. The Jews in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust did not have that luxury. We know that no matter when, if needed, we have a real home.
Each eulogy that was delivered at Ezra’s funeral spoke of the gratefulness that was felt that he had time in Israel even if it was for a short period and so tragically ended. There was no remorse and no bitterness. Throughout was a tone of gratitude for the life that he had; for what he had contributed to the family, to the community and to his friends.
Yes. Absolutely we should enjoy Thanksgiving and remember each day that we are surrounded by wondrous blessings, and especially a worldwide network of family.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick