Parashat Vayetzei

Friday, November 24, 2017 / 6 Kislev, 5778
Parashat Vayetzei Genesis 28:10-32:3
Dear Friends,
I wish you Thanksgiving and early Shabbat greetings from Boston MA.
We are spending Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in more than a decade.  I can’t even remember the last time we were here at this season. Our boys will get to experience a crisp, cool, New England Thanksgiving, replete with my traditional Thanksgiving morning touch football game with old friends (who today feel pretty old…I hope I don’t get hurt!); time at the Thanksgiving table with my parents, brother, sister in law and nephews, whom we don’t see very often; and reconnecting with friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in quite some time.
I wax nostalgic this year in particular and am especially grateful for the many blessing we are able to experience as a family. Even during tough times, and the challenging several months that have preceded this moment, we remain thankful for the bounty that fills our lives.
Below, as I have done in past years, I share first, the A Proclamation of Thanksgiving offered by Connecticut Governor, Wilbur Cross in 1936.  I also include two poems that you can reflect on yourselves, or choose to share at your Thanksgiving table tonight.
Wherever you are, and whomever you are with tonight, be grateful for this opportunity to connect, to celebrate, and to be together.
Happy Thanksgiving (and Shabbat Shalom too!)
Rabbi Chuck Briskin
Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.
In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of Public Thanksgiving for the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth — for all the creature comforts: the yield of the soil that has fed us and the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives — and for all those things, as dear as breath to the body, that quicken man’s faith in his manhood, that nourish and strengthen his spirit to do the great work still before him: for the brotherly word and act; for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth; for liberty and for justice freely granted by each to his fellow and so as freely enjoyed; and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land; — that we may humbly take heart of these blessings as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites to keep our Harvest Home
Governor of the State of Connecticut William Cross, 1936
A Thanksgiving Prayer
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
Without fear,
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these.  Amen.
Rabbi Naomi Levy, From Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration
Life as a Banquet
God of sacred time,
Source of sacred space,
Creator of holiness,
Divine light of wonder and awe,
My vision is clouded,
My sight limited,
The horizon of this world binds my perceptions.
What I see and what I know are tied to my awareness.
Heavenly hand of wisdom,
Guardian of realms above and realms below,
You who give understanding and insight,
Grant me the grace to live my life as a banquet,
A river of abundance and blessing
That yields food and clothing and shelter,
That I accept with humility and thanksgiving.
Give me the strength and compassion
To share these gifts with those in need,
To become an instrument of Divine bounty.
You who provide gifts beyond measure,
Guide me with Your love,
Teach me with Your holiness,
Show me the path to charity and service,
So that I live a life of dignity and honor,
With reverence for Your creation.
Blessed are You, God of time and space,
Providing bounty to be shared.