מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם,
שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ.
Grateful I am before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.
These are the first words that leave our lips in the morning – while still laying in bed. I opened my eyes, in a latke coma, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “grateful.” Images rushed into my mind, like a montage, of last night’s Thanksgivukkah. 18 of us sat around 2 huge tables, expressing our deepest gratitudes to the world and to each other. I looked around at the room of smiling faces, people exchanging hugs, belt buckles loosening from delicious food that we each made to bring a little piece of home to the meal and I felt deep joy.
What we were grateful for included the ability to make decisions, the ability to have “home” exist wherever we are yet, knowing, that other people, who aren’t with us, are also at home. When it came to me, I was full to the brim of things that I could have expressed. I have immense gratitude for the people and spaces and places in my life. I decided to mention just one, and I’ll echo that idea here.
I am grateful for the ability to come to Israel and immerse myself in Judaism and Torah for an entire year, all the while, not making any money. I am grateful that I have parents, friends and family who support my decision to dedicate a year of my life to Torah and, in the case of my parents, to do that while not making any money. I am grateful that I am dedicating a year to study Torah with such an incredible, supportive, growing, loving community.
After singing the widest myriad of songs including, but not limited to Ma’oz Tzur, America the Beautiful, Al HaNisim, The Star Spangled Banner, Tov L’Hodot L’Hashem, I’m Proud to be an American, Niggunim and of course, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas we danced around the room, lifting friends in chairs, and finally collapsed on the couches in a blur of red wine and brisket latkes, I felt blissful. I felt at peace.
When I got back to my apartment, I skyped with my family and the idea of having a home in multiple places was affirmed. They passed the phone around and we exchanged Thanksgivukkah greetings and it felt like they could have been just around the corner. While we are thousands of miles apart, I realized that I was grateful for another thing, the wonders of technology, and it’s ability to bring my family right onto my balcony, to here, po.
Nes gadol haya po. | A great miracle happened here.
Photos: Sarah Pollack