What Are We Thankful for at the Jewish Journal?

In honor of Thanksgiving, check out these three pieces on gratitude from the Jewish Journal:

As we enter this American day of thanks, and as we count our many blessings, let us not forget the blessing of progress, the blessing of being able to make things better, not just in the world but in our own lives.

On this one day at least, let us be grateful that there is good news hidden in the bad, if we know how to look for it.

Judaism, it seems, is obsessed with teaching gratitude and its connection to holiness and experiencing joy. One of the most famous teachings of Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”) asks, “Who is rich? He who rejoices in his lot, as it is said: You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors, you shall be happy and you shall prosper” (Psalms 128:2). Even the Hebrew term for a Jew (“Yehudi”) is derived from “hodaya,” or thanking God/thankfulness.

Life is a miracle that we have no right to and that we did not earn. While we might justifiably take credit for some of the good things that have come our way throughout our lives because of wise decisions we have made or hard work we have done, our existence itself–the very existence that has made everything else in our lives possible–is in its entirety a gift given to us by others.

What Should We Expect After the Jerusalem Bombings?

A day after a shocking bombing at a bus stop in Jerusalem that killed one and injured many, Israelis are wondering who is responsible and what to expect.

The horrific outcome of the blasts may not be directly related to the wave of violent incitement that engulfed the Palestinian youth lately, who sometimes carry out attacks for the sole purpose of posting them on social media. These attacks were likely carried out by a well-organized terror cell that planned the explosives way ahead of time.

Wednesday’s double bombing attack undoubtedly represents a new phase in the ongoing eight-month-old mini-wave of terror. But the country need not frighten itself more than necessary by saying that this phase puts it on the cusp of another intifada.

All this amounts to a continued deterioration of the security situation. Although the resilience of the Israeli people and the great capabilities of the Israeli security forces will continue to provide a resolute response to terrorism, challenging times could lie ahead.

Should the FBI Be Investigating the Death of Shireen Abu-Akleh?

After Israel closed its own internal investigation into the death of journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh (which found no fault but did not deny that the bullet may have come from an IDF soldier), the FBI will be conducting its own investigation into the matter.

The least bad—and perhaps most likely—end to this episode: The FBI takes one more look at the evidence, finds nothing new or surprising, and then quietly closes the case, confirming the conclusions of the USSC and the IDF.

The FBI complied with this outrageous request, the sole purpose of which is to blacken the reputation of the Jewish state and strengthen its singling out for international condemnation. This, by definition, constitutes antisemitism.

“Nobody’s actually mentioned what the potential crime would be. [Supporters of an FBI probe] use terms like accountability and justice, but the FBI doesn’t do accountability. The FBI doesn’t do fairness. The FBI does crimes. And so it’s unclear precisely what crime would be investigated, if indeed any crime is being investigated,” said one person who works on foreign policy in Washington and requested anonymity to speak freely.

Will Jewish Republicans Stand with Trump or DeSantis?

Last weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas is being analyzed to see who Jewish republicans will support in 2024.

Trump is still the most powerful figure in the Republican Party. It will be months before DeSantis will have the opportunity to prove whether he has displaced Trump in that role. But the Florida governor received by far the most enthusiastic response from the attendees…

Still, Trump supporters generated the loudest responses of the weekend. Several remained on their feet for the duration of his remarks, waiting to holler at every given opportunity.

Republican 2024 hopefuls voiced their remonstrations of Donald Trump to a maelstrom of applause. This is yet more evidence that Trump might currently be enduring his biggest reputational collapse since the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

What’s the Future of Birthright?

With serious shortfalls of funding for Israel trips, the Jewish world may have to reckon what Israel education looks like in a post-Birthright world.

Birthright is too important to be allowed to be just one more victim of a bad economy or the decisions of individual foundations to shift their priorities… The alternative is to admit failure, not merely for a particular program, but for the North American Jewish community as a whole.

Long before the current crisis, Birthright had been struggling to fill the spots in its program, and was forced to adjust the admission criteria for participants. The lack of interest in taking part in this program is expected to increase with the swearing in of Israel’s new government – which will be the most right-wing and religious government in the country’s history.

Years of Birthright’s own surveys had shown that the young American Jews who go on the free trips enhance their feelings of belonging to the Jewish people and their attachment to Israel. Birthright officials say the Cohen Center, which analyzed responses from Pew’s 2020 study of American Jews, for the first time validated the nonprofit’s own surveys with independently collected data.

Is There a Jewish Connection to Thanksgiving?

Check out these three takes on the unlikely connections and disconnections between Jews and pilgrims.

Despite the close association the holiday has with God and being thankful, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. That’s why prominent Orthodox rabbis of the mid-20th century, including Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, gave Thanksgiving their hechsher. There are even some specific Jewish Thanksgiving traditions, especially with Manhattan’s Shareith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America.

Clearly the Sukkot holiday would have been well-known to the religious pilgrims who actually saw themselves as new Israelites crossing not the Red Sea to the promised land of Israel, but the Atlantic to the promised land of America to find religious freedom. Could it be that the pilgrims were inspired by the biblical fall festival of thanksgiving (Sukkot) to institute their own similar festival after their first year in America?

Kanye and Kyrie were merely repeating themes made four hundred years earlier, by the founders of Thanksgiving…. The Puritans’ love for the Bible did not lead to love toward the Jewish people, on the contrary. Since they believed they had replaced the Jews, there was no room for living Jews in their theology, or in their new world.

Today’s Hot Issues

What Are We Thankful for at the Jewish Journal? What Should We Expect After the Jerusalem Bombings? Should the FBI Be Investigating the Death of Shireen Abu-Akleh? Will Jewish Republicans Stand with Trump or DeSantis? What’s the Future of Birthright? Is There a Jewish Connection to Thanksgiving?