A couple of times this week the similarities between Sukkot and Thanksgiving have come up, and it turns out, that first feast between the Pilgrims and the Indians was very likely rooted in Jewish practice. Now that paints a different picture than a bunch of WASPy Pilgrims in their stiff clothes and nerdy buckled shoes formally sitting down with a tribe of mohawked red people with superior hunting and agricultural skills: If the first folks in America to hang out with the locals actually had been Jews, you know everyone would have been mingling and cooking and tasting and arguing and singing (but probably wearing some kind of footwear, maybe a nice suede ankle boot, because every Jewish mother knows you can get ringworm by going barefoot in a strange place.) We Jews know how to have a good time, don’t we?
Linda Morel’s 2004 JTA essay has more on the subject, and Lisa Katz nails it for all of us in her thoughtful entry at About.com:
In the long history of the Diaspora, Jews have never been as prosperous, organized, influential and accepted as they are today in America.
I am deeply grateful for my life, my family, my children, my home, my work, my heritage, my health and YOU! yes you, dear reader! Thank you for holding a place in the Jewish blog world over three and half years. That makes me, like, a really old blogger, especially since all the cool kids just do Facebook now.
I’m off on a date with El Yenta Man and to gather with the other fun young Jews of Savannah at the Sweet Potato Schmooze. Then tomorrow we’re going to cook for six hours, wolf it down in 20 min. and sleep for three days. I’ll be back sometime before Chanukah!
May you all experience warm bellies and bliss…
Thanksgiving sameach! May your blog be inscribed in the jblogosphere for at least another 3 1/2 years – and then some.
Here’s more. Are you aware that some history buffs theorize that Columbus may have been Jewish? It’s an old idea; I wonder if there’s any merit to it.
Oh yeah, I’m totally down with the theory that Columbus was a Jew but a favorite of Queen Isabella, so she packed him up some ships and sent him off to the New World.
And then sent him off to the Inquisition upon his return to Spain.
What’s a Jewish holiday without a little debate, eh? From the Forward’s Bintel Blog (how’s that for combining old & new?):
Be sure to check out the links to the haredi halakhists who think the whole Thanksgiving thing is verboden for us.
As to the Pilgrims, they might have derived the Thanksgiving idea from their bible reading, btu I don’t they spent much time talking with Amsterdam Sephardim. The Pilgrims were radicals & separatists, who thought run-of-the-mill Puritans were too mild. They didnt allow Jews, Catholics or even other Protestants to set up shop in colonial Massachusetts. They went so far as to hang Quakers for being Quakers and well we all know what they did to witches.
That said, their descendants did turn toward tolerance and religious liberty, so I’m still down with the holiday, sans mythology.
this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get something done.