No Need to Sing the Turkey Blues

Just say the word “Thanksgiving” and our brains go into sensory overload as we whiff the stuffed turkey cooking in the oven, visualize the deep red cranberry sauce and orange sweet potatoes, taste the scrumptious pumpkin pie, hear the crowds roaring at the local high school football game and conjure up images of the extended family lounging around together watching the Macy Parade in New York.

Although we have many ways in Judaism to express our gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in our lives, when Thanksgiving time comes around in Israel, something is often missing for former Americans and Canadians (who celebrated Thanksgiving on Oct. 11 in Canada). Even veteran olim are often nostalgic as they recall memories of their family holiday celebrations in North America.

I still remember my first Thanksgiving in Israel in 1977. Living on a kibbutz in the western Galilee, we had dinner as usual in the communal dining room. The “delicacies” on our plates (eshel, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, white cheese, a hard boiled egg and a slice of bread) were a far cry from the holiday foods that our families were consuming that day back in Philadelphia and Boston, expanding the distance between us and arousing feelings of homesickness.

There are many American and Canadian Israelis who feel the message of the holiday translates across oceans and borders and continue to celebrate Thanksgiving here. It’s not so simple. Have you had the experience of begging the butcher in the supermarket to secure a whole turkey for you for the occasion? Even if you were able to acquire this prized possession, after triumphantly shlepping home “Horace” (as my mother fondly called our bird), much to your dismay you discovered that there was no way you could cram it into your Israeli-size oven, definitely not designed to cook a whole 25 pound turkey.

No need to surrender. Come to AACI and surround yourself with other American and Canadian Israelis for a special Thanksgiving celebration. There are several ways to commemorate the holiday. All activities will take place at the Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center in Jerusalem.

Children (ages 4 and up) are invited for a special Thanksgiving story and craft project with Mimi on Tuesday, November 23 from 4:15 – 5:30 pm. A great way to pass on the traditions of the holiday!

The National AACI Seniors will hold their own Thanksgiving festivities on Wednesday, November 24 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The program includes guest speaker David Macarov, emeritus professor of the Hebrew University School of Social Work, who worked with the head of Aliyah Bet in America before coming on aliyah in 1947, served in the Haganah and was chief cryptographer for the Israel Air Force. In addition to a traditional Thanksgiving meal (kosher mehadrin) there will be live entertainment. Cost per person: AACI members NIS 100 / non-members NIS 125.

On Thursday, November 25 (Thanksgiving Day in America) there will be a Thanksgiving feast at 6:00 pm. This is the first time this event will take place in our new center. Don’t miss out on a full kosher (mehadrin) Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and entertainment as well. Cost per person: AACI members NIS 115 / non-members NIS 130.

All above events require immediate reservations. If you are interested, please call AACI at02-566-1181,

Thanksgiving is followed in America by “Black Friday”, the day holiday shopping officially begins. While we may not have stores in Israel giving away plasma TV’s for half-price at 5:00 am, you can always visit the shuk with Sybil Kaplan and see what bargains await you there!  (For more information, click here)

Now if we could just have the four day weekend to go along with our Thanksgiving meal, we would truly have a perfect holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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