Festivals and Judges
The Twelve Weeks of Christmas
The last decorations will surely have been taken down from the lampposts by Lincoln’s birthday, so the end of the Christmas season is in sight. The Jews of America are completing another cycle of ease and unease-in November, Thanksgiving; in December, Christmas.
Thanksgiving seems made to order for Jews. As a friend and colleague has noted, it is celebrated by eating, and Jews eat rather than drink. Again, what one eats is not the flesh of an unclean animal or a fish without fins and scales, but a thoroughly kosher bird. And what comes out of the mouth on Thanksgiving is equally Jewish-both the message and the tone. Thanksgiving is the great point of intersection between Judaism and the sacral tradition of America. The Spanish-Portuguese Congregation’s Thanksgiving rite, which goes back to the 18th century, consists largely of psalms, including two from the Hallel.
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