The United States was the first country to offer Jews the right to vote in national elections. Although we endured much discrimination, we simultaneously found opportunity and made great contributions. For most of us, our experience of anti-Semitism differed from that our parents. We have lived openly and proudly in a country of diversity. Remarkably, when the Pew Research Center asked in 2014, which religion do you most admire other than your own, Judaism came out first. (Click here to read more about the study.)  In America, we Jews have felt fully at home, blessed by and loyal to our great nation.

I write these reflections as a Jew, because my Jewish identity is central to my personal identity. And so is my American identity. My parents were immigrants. Great was their patriotism, because America gave them security, acceptance, and opportunity. They became citizens by passing a test on American history and the Constitution. The rights they enjoyed were a product of a nation that put law and justice at its center of values. As we gather this week with our families, let us pause to share what is it about America that defines its greatness. Let us reflect out loud with each other and share thanksgiving.

Prayer for the Thanksgiving Table
By Rabbi Naomi Levy, spiritual leader of Nashuva.

For the laughter of the children, For my own life breath, For the abundance of food on this table, For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast, For the roof over our heads, The clothes on our backs, For our health, And our wealth of blessings, For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, For the freedom to pray these words Without fear, In any language, In any faith, In this great country, Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants. Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen.

Leonard Cohen: Through the years I enjoyed Leonard Cohen’s music, such as Halleluyah, Like a Bird on the Wire, and Suzanne. But since his passing I have read reflections that have deepened my appreciation. Please consider the following two presentations.

Rabbi Mordechai Finley:

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Leonard Cohen and Parashat Va’yera