Dear Friends,
Without doubt, this has been an “interesting” year.

I mean this in the sense of the old curse, “May you live in interesting times!” In many ways the thought of celebrating a festival of Thanks” may seem ironic. Our hearts are touched by the degree of suffering that affects so many people:

Covid-19 that has infected over a million Americans and in excess of 60 million around the world.
The number of our citizens who have lost their sources of livelihood or had to scramble to find new and different sources of income has forced them into a daily struggle to provide even basic necessities for so many families.

As Jews, we have seen an upsurge in antisemitism, which has forced us to take additional steps to protect life and property.
Specifically, with regard to the celebration of the holiday, the threat of the spread of Covid has reduced the time for grand family gatherings into severely limiting those who will be seated around our tables.

How, then, is it possible to express Thanks?!

1. Appreciation

The basic element of any “Thanksgiving” is the recognition of the blessings we still possess.

– The fact that there are so many people who are devoting themselves daily, in so many different ways, to treating those affected by the Pandemic.

– The fact that wearing masks and washing our hands and keeping a safe distance may be a mild inconvenience and yet they are highly effective in providing us with protection from spreading this incredibly infectious disease.

– The fact that a vaccine appears relatively imminent – perhaps as early as mid to late December of this year.

– The fact that we have technology that has allowed to communicate in highly effective ways that don’t require us to expose ourselves to the virus.

– The fact that many companies are using their resources to assist families who might require their services to make it financially affordable.

– The fact that many of us are still maintaining our health and are able to function pretty well.

2. Hope

Another important element in maintaining a sense of thanksgiving is the hope we can bear in our hearts. As Jews, we believe in One Divine Creator who lovingly guides the affairs of the Universe (Ad-nai). At the same time, we believe that our Creator is also the “Judge of All the Earth.”

As a result, we have reason to believe that in all this adversity, there is yet the likelihood of a great future.

Our Tradition provides us with a guide through which each one of us can leave our mark in this world.

By cultivating values that embody love and compassion; patience, forgiveness and determination; by pursuing the ways of justice, and peace; by becoming stewards of the resources on which our survival depends; humanity can face a bright future.

I thank God for placing us in a world in which we can choose to see opportunity in every challenge!

May all your “Thanksgivings” be filled with the love and joy of family and friends; good health and prosperity; and doing our part in pursuing the paths of peace.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving,

Mordecai Miller
Rabbi, Congregation Beth Ami
Santa Rosa, CA