Thanksgiving, Jewish Style

Modah ani lifanekha melekh chai v’kayam shehecḥezarta bi nishmahti b’cḥemlah, rabah emunatekha.

I offer thanks before you, living and eternal Ruler, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

A Jewish day properly begins with gratitude.

Some say Modeh Ani* even before they set a foot on the floor in the morning. Some say it in the synagogue. And even for those who do not say it, it waits in the prayer book.

What is it that we can be grateful for, before standing up, before washing, before the first cup of coffee? We are grateful simply to be alive. “Restored my soul within me” refers to the ancient Jewish belief that sleep is 1/60th of death. We begin the day reminding ourselves that life itself is a gift.

This week Jews in the United States observe the national holiday of Thanksgiving. There’s a particular joy in sharing a holiday with our non-Jewish neighbors: there’s no need to ask for a special day off and no need to explain it to children as someone else’s holiday.

And yet: Let’s remember that in our tradition, every day is thanksgiving day. The Torah teaches us that life itself  is a precious gift: fragile, transient, infinitely precious. Use it well.


*”Modeh” is the masculine form, “modah”the feminine.

Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, Jewish Style”

  1. I stopped to read this while taking a break from cleaning up our house and prepping for cooking. Perfect timing for me. Thankful for so many things…life itself….and at this moment, for a chance to sit down and think about how wonderfully lucky I am to be alive and able to share this and so many holidays with family and friends. Hope you have a warm, welcoming, peaceful, and sweet Thanksgiving. Kol tuv, Teme


  2. This is beautifully written, and I am sure expresses the thoughts of many of us. Thank
    you for it and for your website, which is so inspiring, even to a senior citizen!


  3. Your reminder that in our tradition every day is a day of thanksgiving is so eloquently put and so wisely stated. None-the-less celebrating the day on Thursday with family and friends of many faiths is such a gift to remember of all that I am so thankful to have in this world of mine that makes me happy and joyful. I wish you and all the readers a bountiful and blessed Holiday.


Comments or Questions? Speak up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s