Four Ways to Find Gratitude During Challenging Times: A Ritual for Your Thanksgiving Table

autumn leaves turn read while trees to the left have leaves fallen
Since October 7th, our Jewish community has experienced collective distress, anguish, and fear. Many of us have struggled to find hope and gratitude.
It is natural that this Thanksgiving may feel different than holidays past. 
Rather than simply saying “I am thankful for…,” use these four prompts to share different experiences of gratitude at your Thanksgiving table. 
May all who are struggling today find gratitude in the way that’s available to them. 
1. Acknowledgement 
We begin by simply naming that this is a challenging time. We accept that gratitude may feel elusive. We show up to the Thanksgiving holiday with honesty and emotional authenticity. We don’t need to feel anything other than what we are feeling. 
2. Tradition 
“There’s always hope. You can lose everything else in the world, but Jews never lose hope.” 
–Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z’l
We can turn to the wealth of texts and teachers in our Jewish tradition, knowing that our ancestors lived through periods of darkness and grief and always sought the light in humanity and hope for better days. 
Invite those at the table to share a particular teacher or text that inspires them. 
3. The Earth 
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grass – among all growing things
and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer…” 
–Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
When we struggle with the suffering in the human world, the natural world can provide inspiration and strength. 
Invite those at the table to share a moment of beauty or connection that you’ve experienced in nature since October 7th—an autumn walk, noticing the trees turning colors or another moment when you felt grateful for nature. 
4. Relationships 
“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”
–Martin Buber
We are able to draw strength and even find gratitude from being together, by expressing our love and affection for each other, by showing up for one another. 
Invite those at the table to share a way that you have shown up for friends or loved ones or how someone has offered you support and connection over the last month.  
May your holiday be full of meaningful moments.




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