Thanksgiving has transformed from being observed by settlers in the United States and Canada to being a celebration of family and the year’s blessings.
Typically, families get together and enjoy an elaborate meal while expressing what they’re thankful for.
The Jewish faith has a lot of its own holidays, but do Jews celebrate Thanksgiving?
Not all Jews will agree about whether Jews are free to celebrate Thanksgiving should they choose to. It is not necessarily observed as a holiday, but there are no religious undertones to Thanksgiving that would forbid a Jewish person from engaging in Thanksgiving traditions.
That said, even though it’s a secular holiday, some aspects of the Torah have been interpreted to suggest that indulging in the traditions of Thanksgiving isn’t allowed.
Can Jews Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Some Jewish families may enjoy a nice dinner on Thanksgiving, and may even create their own kosher Thanksgiving dinner menu.
Other Jewish families don’t see any point in celebrating the holiday since there are various Jewish holidays that bring together families and include sharing a delicious meal.
Jews will often follow the guidance of their rabbi or a trusted spiritual advisor in regard to whether or not it’s okay to celebrate Thanksgiving.
As the Torah says that it’s not advised to do what other “nations” do, this has sometimes been interpreted to mean not to follow Western customs such as Thanksgiving.
A Jewish person’s participation in Thanksgiving may be fine so long as it’s not revered as a day of particular importance. It shouldn’t be honored in the same way an actual Jewish holiday is.
Even though it’s not a religious holiday, it’s still not a Jewish holiday, and shouldn’t be seen as holding the same merit.
What Do Jews Eat On Thanksgiving?
For Jews who do engage in some form of Thanksgiving, they may or may not eat some of the common dishes enjoyed by non-Jewish families.
This can include kosher meat dishes and stuffing made with kosher bread, as well as some of the fantastic vegetable-based side dishes enjoyed during the holiday.
There are also a lot of ways that Jewish families infuse cultural cuisine into the traditional Thanksgiving menu.
Of course, they don’t skimp on the decadent dessert portion of Thanksgiving either. There are a wealth of ways to make kosher-abiding, Thanksgiving-inspired desserts.
Instead of making mashed potatoes or a sweet potato casserole, one might instead make some sweet potato latkes.
Instead of preparing foods with loads of butter, one might choose to use schmaltz instead, which is a rendered animal fat.
Are Jews Allowed To Eat Turkey?
So long as the turkey is kosher, Jews are able to eat it. Turkey isn’t mentioned specifically in kashrut, which are the laws that determine what foods are kosher.
Turkey is a Western delicacy since the birds are mainly found in Western countries.
What’s most important is that the turkey is killed and prepared according to kosher rules surrounding animal-based foods.
The turkey must also be cooked and served in such a way that abides by kashrut laws, which will advise what utensils to use and what ingredients can be used in the preparation.
What Holidays Do Jews Celebrate?
Judaism observes a vast amount of holidays that are particular to the faith, and don’t often celebrate holidays that have religious origins from other faiths, such as Christmas or Easter.
Many have heard of Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover and Rosh Hashanah, but the Jewish faith has a wealth of different holidays of significant importance.
Some examples of other holidays and days of celebration include Shavuot, or the Festival of the First Fruits, and Tu B’av, which is a day to celebrate love.
There is also Tu B’Shevat which sees Jews celebrating nature and how people connect to the environment, and many more days with more solemn origins.
There is debate amongst those who practice Judaism as to whether it’s acceptable to celebrate Thanksgiving in any form.
It’s not uncommon for Jews to observe Thanksgiving in some form, even if they simply get together with their families and enjoy a kosher meal together.
After all, the most important part of a modern-day Thanksgiving is to be with the ones you love and are grateful for.