Yesterday was our fifth Thanksgiving in a row in Israel. Thanksgiving is the one American holiday that it seems American expats in Israel celebrate. There are two reasons for this. First for those of us who grew up in the observant world it was the one holiday that everyone could come and celebrate. As opposed to Jewish holidays where driving might get in the way, Thanksgiving was the only holiday where relatives near and far could travel and get together. It was also the only holiday that only the most extreme in the Orthodox world could come up with reasons not to celebrate. Of course, there is also a simple reason, most of us have good memories of getting together with extended family on this holiday.
Living in Israel changes that and very few of us have extending family in Israel instead it is friends that generally have to be the stand-ins. Our Thanksgiving celebration centered this year as it has the last few, on the friends of my daughter, most of them who she had met while in the army. The house was properly filled with he friends, Amy and I invited two friends to join us, in addition to the friend who was visiting and Eytan had a friend as well, 24 people joined together in a uniquely American tradition in the heart of Tel Aviv. We ate turkey which had to be specially ordered, feasted on a large number of side dishes, and drank the wine that my daughter’s friends brought. Of course, no Thanksgiving could be complete without having Pumpkin Pie. In addition, my daughter made a unique Kalua desert that my Mother used to make on special occasions. It was lovely and for a few hours we were seemingly all transported to another place and time. Of course that was only partially true since we were indeed in Tel Aviv and the friends that Amy and I had invited are highly political and while we feasted like we were in New York, our discussion were far more serious than the average Thanksgiving dinner in America.