Tonight my cup truly runneth over. American and Jewish history were my two central areas of study in college. Tonight they converge. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving share an evening.
While they are millennia apart and recount different stories, they share a resounding lesson: the power of gratitude.
On Hanukkah we give thanks for the sacrifices and faith of the ancient Jewish group known as the Maccabees. They fought for their freedom and saved the Temple in Jerusalem. We also give thanks to God for blessing the oil the Maccabees found in the Temple, and letting it burn for eight full days.
Like Hanukkah, Thanksgiving expresses gratitude for the sacrifices and faith of an ancient group. The Puritans withstood starvation and disease in the faith that they were building a New Israel in the New World.
Even as many suffered, they celebrated and gave thanks for the bounty of the land. Their gift remains our responsibility.