Thanksgiving: Church Holiday

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    Interestingly, despite all the references to God and Natural Law in the Declaration of Independence which he largely wrote, Jefferson was widely derided during his lifetime as a non-believer.

    anon for this


    Jefferson was actually a deist (like Franklin), I thought, but to Christians he might’ve seemed to be an unbeliever.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that despite his personal beliefs, Washington did not consider the United States to be a Christian nation (see Treaty of Tripoli).



    Correct, Washington did not believe the US to be a Christian nation; he respected the separation of church and state. Personally he was an active lay Anglican/Episcopalian. He was a member of the Vestry in colonial times, which had the very important role of distributing communal poor funds. His letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport is an amazing statement of acceptance of a minority religion; one has to go all the way back to the Roman Empire to find something similar. (And as we all know, Rome did not always practice what it preached.)

    Jefferson might be described as a Deist, but even that isn’t clear. He went to great lengths to disguise his actual religious views. He clearly was not a trinitarian Christian and he edited his own version of the Christian gospels, taking out everything that looked supernatural to him. Ironically, some of the worst attacks against him came during the 1800 Presidential election — his opponent John Adams was clearly a Unitarian heretic (and didn’t hide that fact).

    Here is the text of Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli as ratified by the US Senate:

    Since under the US Constitution treaties become the law of the land, this language would appear to still be in effect.

    FWIW, Tripoli is now part of Libya.


    I heard a “vort” over my Tofurkey this year (my aunt made Tofurkey AND we had turkey ice cream).

    Seudat Hodaah = Meal of Thanks

    Tarnigol Hodu – Turkey

    Hodu – India

    Thanksgiving in American – Turkey to celebrate early survival with Indians!*

    *Yes, I realize they are native Americans, not people from India. Go with the joke.


    “So, why is Thanksgiving forbidden to celebrate, but Independence Day is okay?”

    Becuz the gedolim said we should celebrate July 4th and we shouldnt celebrate Thanksgiving. That the only reason anyone ever needs.


    I agree with mosherose? I do. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPP!


    mosherose, would that be all of the gedolim? “Kulee alma, lo plegee?”


    “Becuz the gedolim said “

    SOME of the gedolim. Other gedolim celebrated it, as have other Jews in America for 221 years.


    This entire thread is getting overblown. There is no issur on getting together with family on a day when most people are off from work, and eating a nice dinner together. SO WHAT if it’s turkey??? Our mesorah is that turkey is kosher, and if we follow the mesorah for everything else, this too should be accepted without further discussion. You don’t want to eat it? Don’t. Mesorah/halacha says that giraffe is also a kosher animal. But if someone was stupid enough to try to shecht one (or could not care less about wild life conservation), I still would not eat it, no matter how it was prepared.

    As to the celebration aspect, we give thanks every day to H”KBH for everything in our lives. We have every right and CHIYUV to give Him thanks for allowing us to live in a country that extends religious freedom to us, a freedom we clearly take for granted, if we even have to discuss this issue. Even if it is a secular holiday, meaning it is not a HOLY day, it is a day that has meaning for us all, and is a reminder to stop and smell the roses along the way, and not take everything we have here for granted. How many of us DO that every day, even as we say Modeh Ani?

    There is nothing wrong with Thanksgiving. It’s not Oso Ish-related

    or a church celebration, either, in nature. I wish people who object could just look at it a little more objectively.


    I wish people who object could just look at it a little more objectively.

    YOU are the one looking at it subjectively.

    objectively the only question is what do the Poskim and Gedolim tell us is the correct behavior re this matter.

    they HAVE spoken about this because there are important Halachic considerations and on this there is a difference of opinion.

    YOU on the other hand have determined the correct course of action based on your own personal analysis.


    Popa, that means you are automatically wrong.

    Mod80, some poskim have said don’t celebrate. Some say muttar.

    Its one thing to say “My Rav says don’t celebrate” and its another to day “Assur gamur for every situtation no matter who your Rav is.”

    Anyway, I didn’t have any real Turkey this thanksgiving. Does that make me holy?


    Anyway, I didn’t have any real Turkey this thanksgiving. Does that make me holy?

    could be…

    unless you had pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce


    No I did not. They did serve pumpkin pie but I didn’t eat it.

    I did have Turkey on Shabbos though, but that’s the Jewish tradition of being cheap 🙂


    Who eats turkey soup?

    Jewish Thinker

    What is turkey soup? Is there such a thing?

    Jewish Thinker

    Now the question is: Is a non-denominational religious holiday permitted for Jews to celebrate?

    Patur Aval Assur

    R’ Moshe’s position was quoted in this thread. But the thing is that those quoting him, didn’t provide any sources and didn’t note that he discussed it multiple times, and he did not say the same thing each time. I have seen at least four teshuvos where he discusses it; there may be more (though I doubt it because the second one references the first one and the third one references the fourth one and the fourth one references the second and third and no others are referenced).

    Even Ha’ezer 2:13

    Orach Chaim 5:20:6

    Yoreh Deiah 4:11

    Yoreh Deiah 4:12


    Are youi thankful to not live in countries where our ancestors were persecuted? Are you thankful to be able to have the freedom to be a frum Yid, without fear of the government arresting you? Are you thankful that your children are able to get a Yeshivah education, and don’t have to play dreidel all day, so as to not appear to be learning Torah? Are you thankful to be able to become educated, get married, earn parnassah,have children, get good medical care, daven in Shul, be able to post in the CR when you wish? Are you thankful to even HAVE a CR in which to post openly?

    Then EAT the stupid turkey with or without stuffing, and have hakoras hatov of SOME type for a country that encourages all of the above. It is not a religious thing for US, even if it is for others in this country, though one can argue that being able to be makir tov is a fundamental pillar of Judaism. This nation was founded on so many Torah principles, and the very first Thanksgiving was probably modeled on a Succos meal. But whether or not that is so, we have much for which to be grateful, in spite of the things we might want to see done differently here. If we rally against those things, at least we won’t be dragged away and shot. And for THAT I am MOST grateful.

    Jewish Thinker

    Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro shlit”a writes that Rav Moshe tz”l was possibly misinformed about the origins of the holiday. Search “beis medrash of bayswater thanksgiving”

    Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer shlit”a was asked a similar question and responded it was not a problem. Search “dinonline thanksgiving rabbi” (mods won’t let me post links)

    Jewish Thinker

    “To set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. . .”

    What does designating a special day to thank their god sound like to you?

    from QuestionForYou

    But the problem with that is that Lincoln said the holiday should be for all americans. Not all americans were christians, some were jewish. Therefore it is not for any specific religion.


    Not to be too picky, but there was a Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving issued by John Hanson, while serving as President of the Continental Congress, on October 11, 1782. The Day of Thanksgiving took place on November 28, 1782.

    Geo. Washington was the first president elected after the constitution was ratified. The USA had a different form of government from July 4, 1776 until December 1787.

    Feel free to search “president hanson thanksgiving”


    When I was growing up oot we went ever year to my parents friends house for thanksgiving every single year, were my parents chas veshalom not following Daas Torah? no, they and their friends were just normal everyday yidden living in America’s heartland, i say this with great conviction not because they were my parents they were frumme yidden in every sense of the word true Torah Jews but back then things were no so farfrumt that everything had to be outlawed and banned we had thanksgiving dinner with our friends because it was normal to do so.

    Jewish Thinker

    Supporting Jewish celebration of Thanksgiving doesn’t make you a patriot, and opposing it doesn’t make you less of a patriot. There’s a halachic issue here which patriotic Americans like me are concerned about. Thanksgiving – though as American as apple pie – IS a church holiday.

    Explain why it is a Church Holiday. What is your defenition of a church holiday? This holiday was started by an American president to give thanks.

    Though if you look at the writings of Sarah Josepha Hale (aka the godmother of thanksgiving) it does seem pretty Christian:

    Let me qoute:

    “THE FOURTH OF JULY is the exponent of independence and civil

    freedom. THANKSGIVING DAY is the national pledge of Christian faith..”

    That sounds Christian but look at this quote:

    “All sects and creeds who take the Bible as their rule of

    faith and morals could unite in such a festival. The Jews, also, who find the direct command

    for a feast at the ingathering of harvest, would gladly join in this Thanksgiving”

    Explicit includence for Jews. Seems pretty interesting.

    Jewish Thinker

    Interesting is that Governor John W. Geary of Pennsylvania, in 1868, had his own Thanksgiving proclomation. In it, it was written:

    “our paths through life may be directed by the example and instructions of the Redeemer and “Let us thank Him with Christian humility for health and prosperity”

    The Jews in Pennsylvania were upset and wrote against it.

    In The Occident,a jewish newspaper, they wrote that Geary “apparently intended to exclude Israelites” . Geary did not retract. Maybe it was sort of Christian.

    Jewish Thinker

    I wonder that even if Thanksgiving itself is permitted is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade forbidden? It originally started out as an Xmis parade. Probably not, though.

    Jewish Thinker

    I heard that if Jews and goyim start a custom together it can’t be chukas hagoy. Does anybody have a source for that?


    I think some people make way to much out of this. Most people are off from work, families have an opportunity to eat together AND they can drive over and go home. Unless you have a dislike of turkey, it’s delicious, low-fat, and very good for you.

    I serve it often for yomim tovim or if I have company coming over when it’s not a yom tov. You don’t want to make a special meal that day? So DON’T! It has no intrinsic religious value, other than to be a general day of thanks to G-d. We should do that every day, and we do. It marks no religious action (unlike the winter non-Jewish holiday which is based in pagan roots), it is generic in nature, and too much is being invested in trashing it. Do we not have more important things to worry about?

    Jewish Thinker

    YES, Hakaras Hatov is very Jewish.

    Jewish Thinker

    Even if Thanksgiving itself is problematic, most customs of it are secular, I think. Turkey was a popular food then, native in America. Football is secular. Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is secular (except Santa). Now the things that may be religious could be the meal. Most say grace. Thanksgiving is not so religious but it does have a religious theme.


    Jewish thinker – B”H that the Goyishe velt finds a day to say grace once a year (though to be fair, religious non-Jew often DO say grace at their meals). If turkey was abundant in the New World, and it was, it makes sense that it was eaten, and the fact that it is a large bird, made it economical for the Pilgrims to feed a large family with one turkey. That’s probably why it was so popular.

    On Thanksgiving, we do not see and religious symbols in the media, in the decorations, etc. The Pilgrims came here searching for freedom from religious persecution (sound familiar?), and as Jews we can and should identify with that. We came to the US for similar reasons after WWII. So we are very much a nation of pilgrims, too.

    Jewish Thinker

    Now the question is: Is a non-denominational religious holiday permitted for Jews to celebrate?”

    This is one of my posts above. I was quoting an earlier post and commenting on it, however I did not use the quotation font/sidebar so this is how it should really look:

    Now the question is: Is a non-denominational religious holiday permitted for Jews to celebrate?


    When it comes to Medicaid, Section 8 benefits, school and, school bussing etc, we’re there wildly pointing to ourselves screaming ” I’m an American’ “. However, when it comes to a purely American, secular holiday like Thanksgiving, we go through contortion z to prove it’s a religious holiday.

    The Pilgrim story is a myth. The first official Thanksgiving celebrated by the United States under the Constitution, was declared by the first Congress,meeting in lower Manhattan. Roger Sherman of Connecticut wanted to declare a national day of Thanksgiving to thank G-d for providing a new government under the Constitution Southern Congressman objected, as they felt this was an act of Kings and they had just thrown off the rule of a king. Sherman responded that he wasn’t emulating European royalty but instead, King Solomon. Just as Solomon thanked G-d at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, they should thank G-d for the Constitution. The Southerners replied that they could emulate Solomon and voted for the resolution.

    So, not only did Judaism play a deciding role, the Rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue was an invited speaker. To commemorate this, since the 1780’s the shul has said special tfillos every Thanksgiving since.

    Avi K

    Actually, one could say that it is a Jewish custom adopted by gentiles – a seudat hodaya. Rav Soloveich celebrated Thanksgiving himself and Rav Moshe permitted it. Others were machmir. See “Thanksgiving: Harmless Holiday or Chukos HaGoyim” on the Ohr Sameach website.



    There are rabbanim who forbid celebrating July 4th because its Chukas HaGoyim


    Re Jewish Thinker’s last post: Here is a better question: Why do you phrase your question backwards? Would it not be better to phrase your question thus: “Are Jews permitted to celebrate a non-denominational religious holiday?” Holidays are not permitted, people are.

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