Observant Jews Can Teach The U.S. How To Observe An Unorthodox Covid Thanksgiving

Don’t expect to fight over the drumstick this Thursday.

With Covid-19 cases reaching record levels, most people will be celebrating Thanksgiving without a houseful of friends and family, a Turkey Day tradition.

But fear not, fellow Americans. Orthodox Jews have some creative and inspiring ways to turn that Thanksgiving frown, upside down. That’s because, they’ve been there, done that, celebrating every major Jewish holiday during the heart of the pandemic.

“All things considered, [the chagim] were actually a really special and beautiful time in our home,” said Chaya G, responding to a Jew In The City social post.

So here are some Orthodox ideas for what is sure to be an unorthodox Thanksgiving.

“We put extra effort into celebrating holidays the way our family would if we were all together,” Chaya said. “Familiar songs and tunes, little silly family traditions, dressing up as if we were all together, all the special foods.”

Planning ahead is key. That has been the secret for Sara Bram and her family during the Jewish holidays as well as each and every Shabbos during the Covid Pandemic.

“We have a lot of the day mapped out so everybody knows what to expect,” she says.  “There are no questions about how we’ll fill the day even if we’re not visiting friends or going to shul.”

Jew In The City’s very own Allison Josephs even shared this holiday hack: On Passover, her kids printed out pictures of their cousins and put them around her Seder table. True, the cousins didn’t have much to say this year, but don’t confuse peace and quiet with a humdrum holiday.

“If everyone really shifts, a few minutes of reflection should do us good,” says Nili Couzens, who spreads Jewish wisdom as an international inspirational speaker. “This is a Thanksgiving you may not have again,” she says.  “You can focus on what you’re grateful for and really have a moment.”

Instead of dismissing this Thanksgiving another 2020 bummer, Mrs. Couzens encourages a Jewish approach to the holiday. “Everything happens for a reason,” she reminds us. “There is a God who loves me and there’s something here I can learn and grow from.”

Learning and growing is something that Jew in the City fan Sara Bram has taken to heart during every Yom Tov and Shabbos throughout Covid.

“One child gives a dvar Torah at the table each week,” she says. “The kids get candies for participating in learning the halachos and reading [or] asking questions about the parsha.”

So this Thanksgiving, learn, laugh, plan ahead and be thankful – a few things that helped Orthodox Jews make the most of their Covid-challenged holidays.

“We’ve had to put in a lot more effort for us and our children,” says Sara Bram, “but it’s been well worth it.”

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