Did you know that the English word “Jew” comes from the Hebrew name of the biblical Judah, which means “thankful”? To be a Jew, then, is by definition to be a person of gratitude. That is one reason why Thanksgiving is such a deeply Jewish holiday (it has roots, after all, in the biblical festival of Sukkot, itself a holiday centered on gratitude) and is so widely celebrated by American Jews. And if Hanukkah is about passionate Jews trying to fight against Greek dominance, perhaps we can see it as a struggle between people who prize gratitude and a culture that glorifies materiality. The confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah this year is thus very special: It is at once a time to give thanks, to recognize that we are above all meant to be a thankful people, and to recognize that we yet have work to do in casting off the dominance of a culture of wealth and consumption. Happy Thanksgivukkah to all!
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