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November 22, 2007

Thinking about my father

I think about my father a lot on Thanksgiving. My father used to read a psalm at the dinner table, and, as I mentioned last year, no one in the family remembers which one it was, and we've instituted a practice of reading Psalm 100 (mizmor l'todah, a psalm of Thanksgiving).

Last year, Thanksgiving was the second-to-last day of saying kaddish for my father, whose first yahrzeit fell on Christmas. (True story: When I asked the assistant rabbi at our shul, who has a dry sense of humor, whether to light the yahrzeit candle before going to mincha-maariv, or after coming home, he looked at me quizzically and asked, "Is it on Shabbat?" I said no, it's on Monday . . . Christmas. He replied, "Well, it's a custom. You can do it either way. Just don't put the candle in the window.")

This year, Thanksgiving is just Thanksgiving. I took advantage of the relatively late starting time (8 a.m.) to go to shacharit. I don't go to morning minyan very often, and this seemed like a good opportunity to become comfortable again in time for my father's yahrzeit, which comes in three weeks. The assistant rabbi, speaking at the end of shacharit, discussed briefly how we know turkey is a kosher bird, even though it's not included in the list of kosher birds in the Torah. (You can read way more than you want to know about the answer here.) Afterwards, I said that I know how we know turkey is kosher: I just bought a turkey at Kosher Mart.

Also, my father is supposed to have said: On Thanksgiving, the Jews have good reason to be thankful, because the Pilgrims arrived in America and didn't find a pig. I don't think I ever heard him say that, myself, but it's a pretty good line.