בַּסִּפְרִיָּה In the Library 11/17

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, right? Well, yes and no. The Pilgrims knew their bible and based their fall harvest celebration on Sukkot, so there’s that. But there has also always been a deep understanding within Judaism of the need to give thanks. The earliest expressions of gratitude involved Temple sacrifices, but even then, personal prayer was involved and with the destruction of the Temple, personal and public prayer took center stage. (Please read at least 1 of these 4 articles: Https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-amidah/ https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/birkat-hagomel-a-jewish-prayer-of-gratitude/  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/modeh-ani-beginning-the-day-with-gratitude/ https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shehechiyanu-a-meditation-on-this-moment/)

Fisher Library has a few books on Jews celebrating Thanksgiving, but this week I wanted to focus on the holiday’s underpinnings. For the Kindergarteners, I chose the delightful I SAY SHEHECHIYANU by Joanne Rocklin, which follows a girl as she expresses thanks for things big and small throughout the year. Each time this big word came up, I had the kids repeat it with me. When you’re only 4 or 5, everything is new, so they’ll have lots of opportunities to say “shehechiyanu” (and not just the word, but the full prayer) as they grow up.

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The 1st/2nd graders had a blast with the book THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING by August Gold. Why a blast with a book on prayer? Because several pages featured lovely illustrations of animals, including closeups of their noses and eyes (which I asked the kids to try to identify). I also asked them what they were thankful for…parents, you’ll be happy (and perhaps, surprised) to know many are thankful, not just for you, but also for their siblings! 

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With the 5th/6th/7th graders, I focused on the siddur itself and the book of Psalms (Tehilim) https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-book-of-psalms/. We discussed Modeh Ani, Modim Anachnu Lach (neither of which they knew) and Ashrei (which they did know, but not that it came from Psalms). We also compared the weekday Amidah (completely new to them) with the Shabbat Amidah, the latter of which is all about thanksgiving.

Finally, since it is the backbone of the siddur, we quickly delved into the book of Psalms, the 23rd in particular. So much to mine there, but oh so little time.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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