The American Jewish Committee has published a collection of prayers and teachings for Thanksgiving to help Americans express grief over terrorism and hope for the future.
“This year will be painfully different from Thanksgivings past because there will be more than 5,000 empty seats at American holiday tables,” wrote Rabbi A. James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser of the AJC, in a column for Religion News Service.
“America’s Table: A Thanksgiving Haggadah” is a four-page publication patterned after the traditional Passover Haggadah booklet used during the Seder, or holiday meal. The Passover Haggadah tells the story of the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt.
“Through the centuries, new stories and prayers were added to the Passover Haggadah, and it remains, unlike the Bible, a work in progress open to new experiences and events, even tragic ones,” Rudin wrote.
The Thanksgiving Haggadah includes ancient and modern passages, citing Leviticus as well as Albert Einstein and Rudolph Giuliani.
“The authors of ‘America’s Table’ followed the rule that ‘less is better.’ As a result, the four pages contain carefully crafted prose offering consolation and hope,” wrote Rudin.
“Let us light one candle in memory of the innocents and the heroes of September 11th, and in empathy with the families and friends who ache for them,” the Thanksgiving Haggadah reads.
It continues: “And let us light a second candle to symbolize hope. Hope for the safety of America and Israel, of Jews everywhere, indeed, of the entire world. In the warmth of these two flames, let us pray for peace.”
The Thanksgiving Haggadah also includes questions for children, such as: “What does Thanksgiving mean to you?” and “How do you think living in America is different from living in other countries?”
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.