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November 17, 1989 - Image 69

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-11-17

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NOVEMBER 17. 1989

A Toast
To Jewish Living

Giving Thanks: A Decidedly Jewish Activity


Rabbi Paul M. Yedwab is rabbi
of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield
and the author of this month's 'To
Our Readers.' For each issue of
EChayim, a rabbi, Jewish educator
or other notable will present an
overview of the month's theme.

Thanksgiving in my home was
always sacred. Now that may sound
strange coming from a rabbi, but
you must understand that my father,
too, is a rabbi, and therefore, family
celebrations together at home were
hard to come by.
Our home celebration of the
Jewish holidays was often cut short
by my father's need to get to
Temple on time. They were spent
watching my father, admiringly to be
sure, lead others in their celebration
and family enjoyment of these
special Jewish days. And so,
Thanksgiving became a sacred
family time — a time at which we
all could gather around a table,
enjoy one another's company, and
give thanks to God for all our
blessings; the Thanksgiving table
for us was a table at which we
could spend some time, and linger
in our enjoyment of one another
and of all that we had.
Of course, Thanksgiving is not
a Jewish holiday; the Pilgrims were
not Jewish. When the first -
Thanksgiving was celebrated, our
ancestors had for the most part not
reached these freedom shores. But
freedom is Jewish; salvation is
Jewish. Indeed, giving thanks is
On Succot particularly we, too,
celebrate the fall harvest and give
thanks to God for our bounty. Of -
course, we do not eat turkey and
tf-e ancient Israelites knew nothing
of corn, not to mention pumpkin pie,
but the similarities are nonetheless
striking. On all Jewish festival days,
including Succot, special psalms of
praise, known as the Halle!, are
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r1O1 1111 1 1

Family Reunions —A Piece Of The Past


Bringing an entire family together
— aunts, uncles, cousins,
grandparents, is at once exhilarating
and frightening. However, if one can
get beyond the paralysis that the
thought of a large family gathering
can induce, the event can be
worthwhile, rewarding and fun.
Probably the two most
important things to keep in mind
when planning a reunion are
purpose and expectations. The
purpose for family gatherings as
Jews follows the calendar: Shabbat
„and holidays are all reasons for
families to come together. Life cycle
events also give us the impetus to
get together: Births, a child

becoming bar or bat mitzvah,
weddings, or funerals are all
settings for family reunions and the
purpose, is fairly evident.

Other occasions such as
special birthdays and anniversaries,
have also become traditional times
to gather the clan. However, with
changing family structures and the
increased mobility of society,
sometimes traditional times for
gathering don't meet our
expectations or hopes. If we look at
the occasion of the bar or bat
mitzvah, to allow little Chaim to "get
to know" his cousins or re-establish
a relationship with Auntie Toots,
then many times we come away
disappointed. Life cycle events

create family history. They are
generally not the arena in which
relationships are forged.

Because many families no
longer live close to one another, we
need to create time and place for
family relationships to develop.
Those relationships now take hard
work and nurturing. I recently spoke
to a family member who gathered all
of her cousins to create a family
history. They came from far and
wide with a purpose. She asked
them to bring photographs, slides,
recipes, old invitations and other
memorabilia. They decided they
wanted to make a video of their
slides and a family cookbook that

Continued on Page L-2

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