Dear Friends,

Thanksgiving greetings from New York, where David and I are visiting his mother Hilda, who is 99 ½ years old, and still living in her own apartment! When we celebrated her 99th birthday in March, I made a list of all of the things that had happened or had been invented during her lifetime: radio tuners (1916), insulin (1922), the traffic signal (1923), the iron lung (1927), penicillin, bubble gum (both in 1928), the electronic microscope (1931), radar (1936), the first computer controlled by software (1941), oral contraceptives (1964) and on and on. It’s both an amazing and amusing list (happy to share with anyone interested), but one that also puts much of our modern day lives and lifestyles in perspective. There is so is much to be grateful for.

Almost every single day, I feel that gratitude and awe when I turn on the faucet and clean running water comes out of the tap. It is not to be taken lightly. I feel it when I am cold and can simply turn up the heat, when I go the grocery store and there is an abundance of fresh produce and food. Though I don’t say “Modah ani” [I am grateful] each and every moment throughout the day when I experience the many things that make our lives so much easier, perhaps I should.

As we know, Thanksgiving is not a Jewish holiday; it is a uniquely American one. In reality, from a Jewish point of view, every day is a day to give thanks: every morning when we wake up, we offer a blessing of gratitude that we have been blessed with another day of life (“Modeh/ah ani lifanecha, melech/ruach chai v’kayam, she’he’chezarta bi nishmati b’chemla, rabbah emunatecha”); we express gratitude that our bodies function, that the sun warms us during the day and the moon lights up the night, that the seasons come and go according to the natural rhythm of the earth’s turning. Rabbi Meir, a sage who lived in the second century C.E., said we should offer at least 100 blessings a day; indeed, there are unlimited opportunities for doing so, if we just pause and appreciate all that we do have.

This Thanksgiving, I am feeling particularly grateful, among other things, to be part of such a special community as Kol Haneshamah. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with you as the seasons turn.

Wishing all of you a meaningful Thanksgiving,

Rabbi Zari