Thanksgiving Kiddush Hashem

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From this week’s The Jewish Press, something you can try in your community (link):

Harrisburg’s Annual Thanksgiving Kiddush Hashem

Clearly, fall has come to Central Pennsylvania. The crisp air, the vibrant array of autumn colors, and, yes, a whole lot of leaves to rake. With the arrival of my favorite season, I know Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

While America’s Orthodox Jewish community has yet to reach a consensus regarding the observance/celebration of Thanksgiving, I believe our shul, Kesher Israel Congregation (KI) in Harrisburg has found the perfect way to spend the day…

They came up with the idea of providing a full Thanksgiving meal for those firefighters who would be spending Thanksgiving on call at the fire station rather than at home surrounded by family and friends. This novel idea resonated with the congregation as well as with some of the local supermarkets. Since then, this event has turned into a highly anticipated annual program at our shul…

Read the full article here: link.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

20 comments

  1. What?! They only do this because it is a kiddush Hashem and not because i think it is right?! This is scandalous!!!

  2. When I was growing up, the Jewish community used to volunteer in the local hospital on Christmas when they were under-staffed. We all spent the day plating meals and delivering them to patients. It is wonderful to see other shuls serving the wider community as well.

  3. Hodu l’Hashem ki tov…

  4. “anonymous on November 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm
    What?! They only do this because it is a kiddush Hashem and not because i think it is right?! This is scandalous!!!”

    Certainly such actions create a kiddush hashem-but it would be better not to brag about it as a kiddush hashem-the net is available.It would be better simply hakarat hatov .

  5. Mycroft & anonymous, please read the actual JP article and not just the tag lines before you offer your critiques.

  6. I wasn’t really criticizing. It was a failed attempt at humor. Baruch Hashem this is an outstanding example of the Jewish people being an ohr la’goyim and contributing in a very positive way to the world, just as the fact that we give blood in such high numbers. I just found the anti-halacha sentiment in the comments to the previous post to be offensive.

  7. Gil, thanks for posting such a positive story like this.

    This may be one of the most beautiful stories I’ve seen this week.

    My only question is why did it take a Shul out in Harrisburg, PA to figure this out?

    I mean there must be hundreds of Shuls in the greater NY/NJ area.
    Why have none of them attempted something like this (my own Shul included)?

    With several weeks left until Thanksgiving, I really hope that other Shuls around the US (my own included) pick up on this terrific idea.

    Can you imagine the good will that this would generate?

  8. Gil, thanks for posting such a positive story like this.

    This may be one of the most beautiful stories I’ve seen this week.

    My only question is why did it take a Shul out in Harrisburg, PA to figure this out?

    I mean there must be hundreds of Shuls in the greater NY/NJ area.
    Why have none of them attempted something like this (my own Shul included)?

    With several weeks left until Thanksgiving, I really hope that other Shuls around the US (my own included) pick up on this terrific idea.

    Can you imagine the good will that this would generate?

    (I’m sorry if I accidentaly posted this comment twice.)

  9. I just watched the Youtube videos.
    Awesome.
    BTW, some of my relatives who did not grow up Orthodox have told me how many more feathers there are on Kosher turkeys than non-Kosher ones.
    That first video finally explains why!

  10. Beautiful story. Great idea. This is inspiring. Exactly what Jews should be doing…in addition to donating blood.

  11. I write this as an Orthodox Jew living in the NY area who has spent many Yom Tovim visiting my close relatives in several of America’s smaller Jewish communities.

    I think the reason something like this Thanksgiving program happens out in PA & not in NY is because so many of us here in the greater NY area are living in dense Jewish communities. We forget that we are part of the larger society & that leads to all sorts of poor behavior on our part.

    It’s the “out of town” Jewish communities that have never lost sight of the fact that they are not living in some sort of isolated Jewish reality & they fully recognize that they are part of something much larger than their own self-created Jewish shtetlach.

    Living like as an “out of town” observant Jew breeds a different type of behavior and in many cases, a different type of Jew than us NY-ers are used to.

    Though they may not have all of the Kosher conveniences that our NY area Jewish communities have, there is a whole lot to be said for living as an observant Jew in America’s smaller Jewish communities.

  12. Don’t be so down on NYC. The Riverdale Jewish Center has been doing this for years as well (and we are in NYC!)

  13. R’ Gil, thanks for sharing our Shul’s Thanksgiving program with your readers.

    As I wrote in the Jewish Press article, all of us in Harrisburg would be thrilled if Shul’s and/or Jewish institutions across the country would replicate this program in their communities.

    I guarantee that this will be a very positive and rewarding experience for all parties involved.

    We’re all looking forward to showing our appreciation to our fire fighters (and police officers this year) in a few weeks.

    This year we’ll also present the fire department with a whole bunch of smoke detectors and 9 volt batteries – as part of their current effort to provide those items to lower income local families.

    I urge all readers of this terrific blog to introduce this program to your Shuls and/or organizations.

    I would be happy to help by answering any logistical questions anyone may have.

    All the best,

    Akiva Males
    rabbimales@yahoo.com
    Kesher Israel Congregation
    http://www.kesherisrael.org

  14. It is beautiful.

    I just hope it doesn’t come davka with a message like “we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.”

    But I suppose if you must not, this is the next best thing. Better, actually.

  15. Nachum,

    Did you read the 2nd. paragraph of his article?

    I understood his point to be that regardless of where one stands on the spectrum of Thanksgiving observance, here’s a great idea that every observant Jew can agree on.

    He’s not out to endorse any position.

    See Rabbi Broyde’s article which already fleshed out all of the legit Jewish positions here:

    http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm

    I wouldn’t worry if I were you. Everyone will continue to observe the day as they have. This PA rabbi is just putting forth a program that all Jews can agree on & would do well replicating.

  16. Rabbi Males and KI are clearly a light unto the nations! Beautiful story and hopefully this will serve as a spark for other shuls nationwide to perform similar acts.

  17. “muel on November 4, 2010 at 6:33 am
    Mycroft & anonymous, please read the actual JP article and not just the tag lines before you offer your critiques.”

    My wife gets the JP delivered Wed morning and thus had read it in the JP.

  18. Another kiddush Hashem by Akiva Males! 🙂 Good job, as always.

  19. Fun trivia: In English, it’s Kesher Israel. In Hebrew, it’s… Kesser (like a crown).

  20. Danny: True, true. See what I wrote.

    Ezzie: Not so bad as Kesher Israel of Washington- if you look at the plaque, it’s clear that the quf was originally a kaf.

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