On Thanksgiving, Americans gather with family and friends to share a meal and give thanks to God for their many blessings. It is one of America’s most beloved holidays – one of those rare times when we come together to reaffirm the principle that the good we have received as a nation and as individuals is a gift from God.
Though Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Israel, its theme is woven throughout Jewish life and holidays. During Hanukkah, which we will observe next month, we remember with a thankful heart God’s gift of a flask of oil that miraculously lasted eight days. On Purim, giving thanks to God is central to the joyous celebration of the Jews’ victory over the evil Haman. On Passover, our hearts are filled with gratitude when we remember how God delivered our ancestors from captivity in Egypt.
I am also reminded of this spirit of thanksgiving whenever I visit our Fellowship-sponsored programs in Israel and hear heartfelt expressions of gratitude from Israel’s needy people for the help they are receiving. Through your generosity, this year more Jews have been brought to their biblical homeland, more hungry Jews have been fed, and more Jewish orphans have been given safe, comfortable places to live than ever before.
We cultivate a sense of thankfulness, first and foremost, by cultivating a sense of gratitude toward God, the One Who made us and sustains us. Psalm 100:4-5 tells us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” When we learn in all things to “give thanks to him and praise his name,” we will find that gratitude – for the smallest blessings, as well as the largest – will follow us throughout our lives.
This Thanksgiving, as I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon me and upon The Fellowship‘s ministry, I will also be thanking God for you, our Fellowship supporters – for your generous spirit, and for all He has accomplished through you. Your compassionate help provides so many needy people with the life-giving support that gives them hope. May your heart be filled with gratefulness for the many blessings in your life, and brim over with thanks to the God Who is the source of all those blessings.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President