Dear WJC Family,
We wanted to send our Friday email a little early this week so we could wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! As Jews we have some important perspectives on thanks. After all, the Hebrew word for Jewish is Yehudi from our ancestor Judah or Yehudah. Yehudah is named by his mother Leah, because she is thankful for his birth—she created the name from the Hebrew term ‘hod,’ meaning ‘thanks.’ So, we are literally “the people who give thanks.”
So what special knowledge do we have about thanks? We know that when used well it is one of the most important tools for living a happy and meaningful life. How so? We give thanks for every little thing. As a matter of fact, we even give thanks for waking up in the morning by reciting the prayer, Modeh Ani (seen to the left). Why bother to give thanks for that? What could be more simple than waking up? Or eating simple bread? Or washing our hands? And yet we give thanks for all of these simple things. Giving thanks for simple, little things is actually where we find the power of gratitude as a key to happiness.
Anyone can give thanks when something extraordinarily good happens. There is no great benefit in that – you are already happy! The real secret of gratitude is using it to recognize how blessed we are by all the little ordinary things we experience everyday. Gratitude is not about giving thanks for the extraordinary things in life. Gratitude is a tool for recognizing how blessed we are to have the ordinary things that we often take for granted. Suddenly, we realize we have a lot to be happy about!
Take this text of the Modeh Ani as a suggestion that this year when you go around your Thanksgiving table telling what you are thankful for, focus not on the extraordinary, but on the ordinary. If you want you can even start by reading Modeh Ani. These days when we can’t even take for granted being able to come together for Thanksgiving dinner, we have a lot to be grateful for!
I am certainly grateful to be serving this congregation as your rabbi. You are truly an extraordinary group of people and I do not take for granted how blessed I am to be here. Thank you, and have a happy Thanksgiving.
See you in shul or online,
P.S. Please note the special service schedule for the holiday weekend!