There can never be too much gratitude. And Thanksgiving is a powerful opportunity for all Americans to join with their family and close friends, to share a festive meal, maybe to watch football, and hopefully to count their blessings. Communities do this as well, and the annual interfaith Thanksgiving service has long been the opportunity for congregations of differing faiths to come together and affirm their commonality as children of God who enjoy the multiple blessings and abundance of their shared American home.
Such interfaith activity is an outgrowth of the Christian post-Holocaust acceptance of Jews as mainstream Americans, as well as the Roman Catholic Church’s adoption of Jews as members of the “elder brother” religion, rather than Christ killers. For these changes Jews can be thankful.
Now, with the growth of Muslim communities, Jews throughout the United States can pay it forward by reaching out to Muslims and including them in traditional interfaith activity. And in the process, we might even say a word of thanks that, with the growth of minority communities, we are not alone as a religious minority.
That effort would be particularly meaningful this year, and at this particular time. Over the past year, there have been so many threats made against ordinary people — to deport 11 million Latinos, to infiltrate Muslim neighborhoods, to ban Muslims from entering the country — that many people stopped taking American stability and rule of law for granted. Anti-Semitic tropes entered the mainstream, Jewish journalists were threatened, and suddenly many Jews, too, began fearing for their safety.
This year, the interfaith Thanksgiving service will be a place to connect with allies, to address the fear, to begin the process of healing, and to strengthen one another. Those who gather, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or from any other group, will celebrate their commitment to a pluralistic, tolerant America — a wide-open American tableau, not a fear-filled land of us and them.
Our message is simple: We are thankful that “this land was made for you and me.”