Thanksgiving is just around the corner, meaning it's time to start thinking about all you have to be thankful for this year – and all you're going to eat when you sit down to celebrate Turkey Day (or Tofurkey Day, for you vegetarians). If you're still making last-minute preparations for the Thanksgiving meal, Mediterranean-inspired side dishes might make a nice addition to the more traditional fare, and if your menu is set, these Thanksgiving-related articles from the Haaretz archive offer plenty of food for thought about the beloved autumn holiday.
Vered Guttman, who writes Haaretz's food blog Modern Manna, suggests pairing traditional Thanksgiving comfort food with healthier side dish options. Among the dishes that could add a Mediterranean twist to the meal are cornbread panzanella with kale and golden beets, celery root and Swiss chard spoon bread and roasted green beans with caramelized onion, sumac and feta.
Guttman also suggests an unconventional addition to the Thanksgiving meal – soup. It's rarely served on Thanksgiving but could help save time and space when it comes to preparing for the big day. "Fall veggies are excellent for making the creamiest soups without the help of cream and for starting the cold season in a warm, relaxed manner," Guttman writes.
For Jewish World blogger Yael Miller, Thanksgiving always includes an "Israeli twist," including hummus and Israeli salads as side dishes and a discussion of Israeli current events. "In a bizarre way, this most American of all holidays makes me yearn for my Israeli heritage," she writes in her reflection on how Thanksgiving is the most Jewish and Israeli of holidays.
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Rabbi David Kalb also believes in the ties between Judaism and Thanksgiving, and draws connections between it and Jewish holidays. "There should be no surprise in the way Jews gravitated toward Thanksgiving," he writes, describing how Jews wanted to connect to the experience of being Jewish and American as far back as the 17th century.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Jonah Geffen describes the choices he, as an observant Jew, is confronted with when celebrating Thanksgiving. “What is my proper Jewish response to Thanksgiving?” he asks himself when deciding whether to eat a slice of dairy pumpkin pie, "knowing it had only been 20 minutes since I put down my brisket." "This table, in all its conflicted glory, is my Jewish-American experience," Geffen writes.
For other American Jews, Thanksgiving presents no such dilemmas, as Vered Guttman writes in this piece about one of American Jewry's oldest families – the Guggenheims. Guttman spoke with Jamie Horwitz, a descendant of William and Julia Guggenheim, who said his family was proud of being Jewish, and proud of being American. "Living in a predominantly non-Jewish area, they felt that Thanksgiving was the one holiday they shared with everybody,” he said.
Americans living in Israel are also proud of that duality and, like blogger Allison Kaplan Sommer, make a point of celebrating Thanksgiving every year even after living in Israel for years. She described what Thanksgiving was like two years ago, when as she put it, "Thanksgiving preparations were rudely interrupted by Operation Pillar of Defense."
Fellow blogger Bradley Burston also wrote about Thanksgiving during wartime, noting that it was time to give thanks for the end of a war. "Perhaps Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to note that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are both native peoples, indigenous to the Holy Land," he wrote, suggesting that at some point – even years down the line – "we're going to have to find a way to share this place. And, maybe then, give thanks for the chance to break bread with neighbors."
Finally, if you are celebrating Thanksgiving in Israel, the holiday here is known as "Hag Hahodaya" – and language buffs might be interested to learn that the Hebrew word for giving thanks sounds a lot like the Hebrew name for the turkey.
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