America's Table: A Thanksgiving Haggadah

Prayers, activities, and more to share at the Thanksgiving table.

The American Jewish Committee published this short Haggadah in 2001. The reader combines themes of mourning and giving thanks, to commemorate the first Thanksgiving after September 11, but the readings are still appropriate. A haggadah, which literally means "telling," is traditionally read during the Passover seder.

This Thanksgiving is different.
Our joy is mixed with profound sorrowbecause there are more than5,000 empty places at America's table.We are grieved. We are angry. We are united.As family. As Jews. As Americans.We want to understand. We struggle to respond.While words may elude us, rituals comfort us.

Spread over us the shelter of Your peace...Remove the adversary from before us and from behind us, and in the shadowof Your wings shelter us.

Strange is our situation here upon earth.Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why,yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.From the standpoint of daily life, however,there is one thing we do know:that we are here for the sake of each other,above all, for those upon whose smile andwell-being our own happiness depends,and also for the countless unknown soulswith whose fate we are connectedby a bond of sympathy.

Lonely sits the city
Once great with people!
She that was great among nations
Is become like a widow.
...But this I do call to mind,
Therefore I have hope:
The kindness of God has not ended,
God's mercies are not spent.
They are renewed every morning...

God cannot have sent us this terror. But we can see that God has given us a world that is a very narrow, precious bridge--so narrow, so precarious, that onewould logically. fear falling into the abyss and simply choose not to cross the bridge. But we must not fear to cross. We must believe that this bridge of life becomes ever wider and safer when thousands of us gather, across all the lines and definitions that divide us, to become the agents of God's goodness.

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