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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Post 101-Gratitude

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Here we are at Post 101 which I am writing on Thanksgiving, a day of gratitude. It's been a life changing nine months since I began writing this blog. So much has changed, but here we are at Thanksgiving, another milestone day of the year, a day about gratitude. I try to express gratitude frequently and to be mindful about what we have. I have been feeling sad about this Thanksgiving, both because we cannot do our usual giant get together but also because Thanksgiving was the beginning of the end of my mom's life. Just a few days after Thanksgiving, which she was able to celebrate with the family last year, mom began a pretty precipitous and heart wrenching drop in the quality of her life which ultimately led to her death.

This morning, like every other morning, I entered our special Zoom minyan. During the service Rabbi H. reflected on doing not doing the tachanun (prayer asking for forgiveness) on Thanksgiving because it is a happy day, a day of thanks. Before we recited the mourner's kaddish at the end of the service, one of the regular Zoom room members, a young woman of true and heartfelt faith, expressed her gratitude about this day so eloquently that I was startled out of feeling down about the day. Through this young woman's eyes, I was graced to have a glimpse into genuine gratitude.

This young woman, a recent immigrant to this country, left her life as a judge in her native country and came to the United States to begin again. She left behind a comfortable life and came to this country not knowing what awaited her in this here but she had faith that she was making the right decision. She is slowly beginning that life anew here. One day, a few years ago, she happened upon a synagogue as she took a walk and she discovered the KI community, where she was welcomed and found a home. In the years since, she has found community, prayer and a home for her spiritual needs.

I meet this young woman each morning in our special Zoom minyan. I witness her great kavannah (intention) when she prays, which is a gift that Zoom offers, as I am able see to her on the Zoom screen as she prays. When she spoke this morning, as it is customary for us to do at the end of each shacharit service, she spoke so earnestly about gratitude as it relates to her family and the KI community. I knew that as she spoke that I was witnessing something special. Her words about experiencing gratitude each day were said from the heart, which helped to bring the words of the Modim (gratitude) prayer, which we recite each day, to life and helped to put this Thanksgiving holiday in perspective.

I was ready to write a post about what I am personally grateful for, but instead I want this post to be about people in your lives who make a difference and show you the way to gratitude. I've always been intrigued by the role that some people have in torah in their ability to further the narrative of the forefathers and foremothers. Something they do or something they say or maybe just where they are at a given moment, helps to change the trajectory of the story. Thank you, dear friend from the KI minyan, for your ability to open the eyes of those around you to what gratitude can be. I try in my own small way to show gratitude, but you live the idea more authentically. More than that, you have taught those of us lucky enough to sit with you at the morning minyan, how gratitude translates into our daily lives. I will keep your words close to me through this day of gratitude and thanks.

With gratitude to God for all that I have, for my family, for safety, for my friends and community. May you and your families be healthy. May our gratitude combine with our actions to heal this country, both physically and spiritually in the days to come.

The Modim Prayer Translated (from My Jewish Learning)

We give thanks to You that you are the Lord our God, and God of our ancestors forever and ever, Rock of our lives and Shield of our salvation from generation to generation.

We give thanks to you and recount your praises, for our lives that are entrusted in your hand, and for our souls that are in your safekeeping, and for your miracles that are with us every day, and for your wonders and good deeds that are with us at all times: evening, morning, and midday.

Good One, your mercies never fail us, Compassionate One, your loving kindness never ceases.

We always hope in you.

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