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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving...Thanks, but what about the Giving?

Greetings friends and family!

I have (as you probably already know) become one of the biggest supporters/recruiters/etc. for the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). This is an amazing organization that is led by a truly wonderfully inspiring and righteous woman - Ruth Messinger. Through her efforts and the countless hours of work by the AJWS staff in NY and DC, we are beginning to really see differences made in the world. Countries in the Global South are really starting to benefit from the knowledge and support they are gaining from grass roots organizations that are supported (with small grants) by AJWS.

When you sit around your Thanksgiving table on Thursday, take a moment and think about those who are "table-less," who are homeless and who would like to be able to sit at a table and eat with their friends and families. Take some of your leftovers and donate it to a local soup kitchen or even invite someone who is in need into your home to join with you. On Passover, we are told to open our doors so that everyone has the opportunity to eat...why not do the same on Thanksgiving? After all, on Passover we are thanking God for our deliverance from slavery in Egypt. On Thanksgiving, we are thanking God for all of the wonders in the world - including our freedom. Seems to me that this link is enough to cause us to want to throw our doors open to those who are hungry.

In the congregation where I serve as rabbinic intern, I teach the 5th and 6th grade. This morning, we had Grandparents Day. We invited as many family members who were able to join us for a special program in which we learned about the Hodaah prayer and its link to Thanksgiving. Afterwards, the family members joined us in our classrooms. In the 6th grade, we spoke for a bit about the Mitzvah projects the students would be doing as they prepared for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony in the upcoming year. In the last few minutes of the class, I charged the students to not stop when their ceremony comes around. I encouraged them to continue working to make life better and more fulfilling for all of us - especially those in our community who are less fortunate.

I encourage you to read this blog by Ilan Caplan of AJWS: Ilan Caplan's AJWS Blog

In his blog, Ilan speaks about many of the things that are so vital and yet so forgotten in our own celebrations surrounding Thanksgiving. When you give thanks this year on Thanksgiving - and every day of your life - take some time to give others something to be thankful for. When we join together and work together, we will be able to create a world in which everyone is able to be thankful for their own bounties. We produce enough food globally to feed everyone...yet, we have millions and millions of people who are starving...this just does NOT make sense! And, can and should do something about it. First step - Say "YES, I will do something....," Second step - Learn how you can, Third Step - DO IT....ACTION!

Here are a couple of websites to begin your education:

Every bit helps...

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