Is Thanksgiving Kosher?

Thanksgiving at the End of November: A Secular or Religious Holiday? (With an Appendix about Halloween) by Rabbi Michael J. Broyde
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It is no longer (and perhaps never was) a celebration affiliated with any particular religion or faith, although some in America celebrate with religious ceremonies. On a social level, it is celebrated by Americans of a broad variety of religious backgrounds. This article discusses the halachic issues related to the different forms of celebrating Thanksgiving that one witnesses in America currently. In particular, this article will focus on whether the holiday of Thanksgiving is essentially a religious holiday, a secular holiday, or an ambiguous one… (more)

13 thoughts on “Is Thanksgiving Kosher?

  1. Interesting thing I found linked on DRUDGE. According to Ben Franklin’s diary, Thanksgiving was originally meant to be a fast:
    “Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon.”
    Gut yuntiff!

  2. Kley,
    Thanksgiving is not celebrating “genocide” by the Puritans. If anything, it is a reminder of the relationship that could have been, which is an important reason to respect this secular Holiday.

  3. “Puritan genocide against the Native Americans should never be celebrated.”
    Once again the hegemonic Westerner, personified today by Kley, imposes his imperialistic “narrative” on indigenous peoples. The West may have developed notions of “human rights” or “human dignity” or “the sanctity of life”, but the native peoples of North America by and large did not subscribe to such repressive “ideals” rooted in the “Judeo-Christian tradition” and “humanism”. For the most part, the tribes slaughtered and mutilated each other with refreshing natural abandon. To wish that the Puritans or any other unnatural white group should have deprived them of this experience and behaved differently by refusing to harm the native Americans is simply another manifestation of Western belief in its own cultural superiority and a promotion of Western self-repression.
    Kley should be sentenced to 90 years of sensitivity training, in a non-judgmental way, of course.

  4. J:
    “For the most part, the tribes slaughtered and mutilated each other with refreshing natural abandon.”
    This may help you sleep at night, but it is not a historically accurate characterization of Native American life in North America in the 15th or any other century. Warfare between tribes existed, but you are wrong to describe it as “abandon.” It certainly didn’t begin to compare to the numerous atrocities Europe had already and was about to inflict upon itself.

  5. Thanksgiving a uniquely American holiday? Why is it, then, that Canada has such a day, albeit at an earlier date owing to the climate and earlier harvest? Once again, we see unconscious, continental American insularity at the expense of her reputation in the wider world.

  6. Sam:
    In order to compare Europeans and Indians, we have to factor in (1) the much greater population of Europe, which allowed for more killings and victims (a per capita analysis) and (2) respecting the post-15th century era, Europe’s much greater technological capacity, which expanded the scope of many of the atrocities.
    If, after considering these two points, you still think Europeans (even including the Spanish) were more prone to murder and atrocity than were the Indians, I invite you to show me the evidence (books, articles, studies, etc.).
    It’s easy to dwell on European atrocities because they’re so (relatively) well-documented and because we study the history of Europe and European peoples more thoroughly than that of others. But this shouldn’t lead us to assume that Europe, or European people, or Western culture has ever had any monopoly on murder and oppression. (Let me note here that I personally am ambivalent about Europe and the West as a whole. I do feel very, very positively about the United States, but I could sleep at night even if we assumed the worst about the early settlers, because in total, the positives far outweigh the negatives.)

  7. Thanksgiving a uniquely American holiday? Why is it, then, that Canada has such a day?
    Well, I was going to say that it was because we copied the Americans. Thanksgiving is not that big a deal in Canada.
    That danged Google, though. It set me straight. Apparently there was some European tradition — British tradition? I know nothing — to give thanks in the month of October. So, at least in theory, Canadians have been giving thanks for years. In fact, our government wants you to know exactly how long we’ve been at it for.
    Few Canadians are aware of this, though. We have no idea what Thanksgiving is for, but a day off is always welcome.

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