Giving Thanks: Part 8 of our Aliyah Journey

Happy Thanksgiving! Wait, people don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel—except for nostalgic Americans. People in Israel do, however, celebrate Black Friday. In fact, the entire week of Thanksgiving is filled with Black Friday advertisements proclaiming major sales at all retailers. Take a look below:

As new olim, we are celebrating Thanksgiving—just a day late. We are hosting a Friday night Thanksgiving dinner for Shabbat (kill two meals with one…turkey?). Speaking of turkey, many Americans struggle to find a turkey for Thanksgiving. Luckily, we found ours at Artzenu, an organic, pasture-raised meat company in the Golan.

Turkey basters are another rare commodity in Israel. After searching several stores, I finally showed an employee a picture of a turkey baster. He referred me to the pharmacy. I know turkey basters look like eye droppers, but they’re not the same thing!

I also haven’t found fresh pumpkins or cranberries in Israel, though select stores do get in canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce. Americans excitedly share these findings on Facebook and WhatsApp groups to help complete each other’s Thanksgiving meals.

Okay, let’s shift away from scarcity mindset and talk about what Israel currently does have: donuts. LOTS of donuts (or as we say in Hebrew: sufganiyot). About a month before Chanukah (and sometimes earlier), donuts start popping up in store windows around Israel. You can find them in bakeries, supermarkets, malls and even gas stations. From simple jelly donuts to intricate chocolate concoctions, donuts are an ever-present cultural phenomena during Chanukah time.

A Roladin donut stand in Hadar Mall. Roladin is a bakery known for their intricate Chanukah donuts.

This year, Thanksgiving and Chanukah are back-to-back, as Chanukah starts Sunday night. Thanksgiving’s message of gratitude transitions nicely to Chanukah’s message of miracles and light. We thank G-d for the big and small miracles in our lives. We take time to be with family, eat delicious food and offer prayers of thanksgiving. Maybe Israelis are happy just celebrating Black Friday because they already have their own Thanksgiving: the holiday of Chanukah.

May this Thanksgiving and Chanukah bring endless light and gratitude into the world. Whether you’re enjoying a turkey (who’s Hebrew name “Hodu” also happens to mean “give thanks”) or a donut, take a minute to pause and count your blessings. Chag Sameach!

About the Author
Manya Ronay is a health writer and educator who recently made aliyah with her husband, Aryeh. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in journalism in 2019 and is currently pursuing her MS in Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida.
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