A Thanksgiving card to my American relatives and friends

Late this Tuesday night, I had a sarcastic thought: No Israelis were murdered by terrorists today — we should all celebrate!

Then, another thought: In fact, we absolutely should!

As painful as the last two months have been, every day that we Jews have our own state in our land is truly a miracle and cause for gratitude. With relatives of recent victims of terror still observing shloshim and even shiva, it’s near-impossible to find an appropriate way to say that in spite of everything, life here in Israel is wonderful. So instead I’ll refer you to this essay, in which Rabbi David Stav found the right words.

For the past fifteen Novembers, since moving from Canada to the United States, I treasured celebrating American Thanksgiving with my wife’s family. Today, on the first Thanksgiving since my aliyah, I went to work like any other Israeli. But my feeling of missing out is mitigated by the thought that soon, I will join my new compatriots in celebrating Hanukkah — eight days whose traditional theme is hallel ve-hoda’ah, giving praise and thanks to God for His never-ceasing miracles.

Thanksgiving 2015 in Jerusalem: In this YouTube screen capture, the officiating rabbi at the wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel expresses gratitude to God at the beginning of his remarks.

As I write these words, thousands are gathering in Jerusalem for an extraordinarily bittersweet simcha. The wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel was originally set for last week, but after Sarah’s father and brother were murdered by terrorists on the way to the Shabbat Hattan, the couple rescheduled the ceremony–and invited the entire Jewish people to attend and rejoice with them. What an incredible triumph of faith over evil. May this inspiring young couple build a bayit ne’eman be-Yisrael, a faithful home in Israel, and may they henceforth know only joyous occasions. Am Yisrael Chai!

About the Author
Philip Reiss is an Associate Professor in the University of Haifa Department of Statistics. He made aliyah, with his wife and their three children, in 2015.
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