On Thanksgiving, 2016, By Chaim Heller, Head of School
While Thanksgiving always falls on the 4th Thursday in November, this year’s break is coming at a particularly good time. The nervous energy that is everywhere around us after the election will continue to have an impact on all of us, regardless of where we stand on the issues or personalities. Having a week to breathe, be together with our families, reconnect, have some meaningful quality time and a break from the day to day – all these can only help us rebalance and ground ourselves for whatever the future holds.
Anxiety is the fear of what might happen and for many of our students, and parents, this is an anxious time. Within our families, sitting around the tables of the next ten days, we need to unpack these fears and try to understand what is driving them. Our children need to unpack all of the sound bytes and images that have dominated the public space and we can help them most by providing context. Context usually adds greater understanding and helps to lessen anxiety, especially with younger children.
Regardless of our anxieties, we need to voice our hopes most of all. Sitting with our children around the Thanksgiving and Shabbat tables, share your hopes and dreams for a good society, where our leaders act for the benefit of all and our nation comes together for a better and brighter future. Let’s find a way to go through our anxiety and fears and discover our hopes.
Finally, let us each commit to engaging in meaningful action that will help bring our community forward and together, and lets base those actions on our shared Jewish values of Menschlichkeit and Kehillah, or community. Thanksgiving is the perfect time for us to reach out to others, forget our anxieties and move forward on repairing our world. Doing nothing, passivity, is not the Jewish response to our times. Regardless of one’s political views, we need to be engaged in meaningful actions that are aligned with our hopes and from which we can develop even greater hope for the future.
Thanksgiving is a time to look around and be appreciative for all we have as individuals, as a family, as a Jewish community, and as citizens of this wonderful country that has brought so much goodness to us and to others. I am proud to be part of all of these circles in my life. May we express the gratitude that we all feel for all that is near and dear to us every day.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving break.