As Thanskgiving approaches, it is time to count the blessings that we have in life. When I celebrated Thanksgiving in Milwaukee, my grandmother always used to say, “What are you thankful for?” Gratitude is a practice that I have adopted every time I lead a family service. When we read the Birchot HaShachar (morning blessings) I have us read in English (“Praised are you Adonai, source of blessing” and then have someone say what they are grateful for. Generally it is one of the basic staples of life: family, friends, food, clothing or shelter. I want to add a few things to this list for which I am grateful
1.) I am grateful to have a loving, supportive community in Jericho. It is not easy to move cross-country and begin a new job, and thanks to the support of congregants and friends, my wife and I have not only had a successful transition but a thriving one.
2.) I am grateful for the changing seasons: the leaves turning colors, the temperature fluctuations (as frustrating as they might be at times) and the raindrops and (not yet but soon to be) snowflakes.
3.) I am grateful to live in a country that judges its cases through juries and trials. While at times I disagree with the decisions (as in the grand jury’s recent acquittal in Ferguson) I appreciate having the opportunity to cases to be judged with due process of law.
4.) I am grateful to live in a country that encourages freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and free speech. While at times I disagree with opinions that I hear, I am grateful to have the opportunity to dialogue and hear diverse points of view.
5.) I am grateful for the Torah and the wisdom it imparts in how I live my life each and every day. Not only the written wisdom but also the spiritual wisdom that I find in reflection, in nature and in my community.
6.) I am grateful for friends who, though some live across the world or across the country, are never too far to call, text, ask advice from or learn from.
7.) I am grateful for my family always being there for me. My parents who raised me into the person I am today, my siblings who have encouraged me throughout my life journey, my grandmother who I often call and ask advice from, my uncles and aunts for always being there for me and last (but not least) my wife for being my life partner in every aspect, for always listening and working with me through life’s challenges and for loving me for who I am.
8.) I am grateful each morning I wake up to the sunrise that I have another day to try to make the world a better place.
May each of you have a happy, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving.