I was not born in America, and we never really celebrated Thanksgiving when we lived there. After moving to Israel, I suddenly missed the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, specifically after seven weeks of staring at my screen and reading every news alert, the focus on Thanksgiving was a great distraction.
In Hebrew, gratitude is expressed as "hakarat hatov," which means “recognizing the good.” Practicing gratitude involves recognizing the good that is already yours. This is a core value in Judaism. Every morning, the first words we say are "Modeh ani," meaning “I thank you.” We have blessings for the body, food, the physical world, and even a beautiful rainbow.
My gratitude list is long and heartfelt:
My adoring husband, who never fails to make me feel like a princess. He never forgets to buy me flowers for Shabbat and insists that I cannot take out the garbage, as princesses don’t do such tasks.
Our children, who make our lives meaningful and filled with love.
The people in our lives who appreciate Caila for the special soul she is. They don’t treat her as a chessed (kindness) project but make a genuine effort to connect with her and include her.
In a world gone crazy, I appreciate my real friends. The silence of some and negativity of others have created a clear line of who counts in my own universe.
I am grateful to be living in the first sovereign state of the Jewish people in 2000 years. Israel is not just my home but the home of all Jews around the world. I have an enormous amount of gratitude to our soldiers who make the supreme sacrifice defending us. The army and all its soldiers choose to fight a moral war, even though it comes at the price of so many young lives.
The unity in Israel is spectacular. I am in awe of a nation that lives each day as “One nation, One heart.” There are no people like the Jewish people. The amount of giving is astounding in every area. As Rabbi Sacks explains, "To be a Jew is to be asked to give, to contribute, to make a difference, to help in the monumental task that has engaged Jews since the dawn of our history, to make the world a home for the Divine presence, a place of justice, compassion, human dignity, and the sanctity of life."