The Tish and the Thanksgiving Table

For many American Jews, observance of Thanksgiving is more than merely permissible; it has evolved into something quasi-sacred, writes Allan Nadler:

In a scene in Avalon, Barry Levinson’s cinematic memoir of growing up in Baltimore with his Yiddish-speaking immigrant parents, Uncle Gabriel Krichinsky, brilliantly played by Lou Jacobi, arrives—late, as usual—for the extended Krichinsky family’s annual Thanksgiving dinner and sees that the meal has begun without him. He reacts to this violation of the established order with a hysterical tantrum, uttering what have been called the “best Thanksgiving movie lines, ever”: “You cut da toikey widdout me? Vot? You couldn’t vait? Your own flesh and blood—you cut da toikey!”

Still incensed, Uncle Gabriel storms out of the house and, from the sidewalk, delivers his final, righteous halakhic ruling: “You gotta vait until every relative is der, before da toikey is cut! I’ve said enough!” And off he drives, his indignation testifying to the way Thanksgiving, uniquely among non-Jewish festivals, has been adopted, with its food and rituals cherished, by American Jews. While parochial debates still linger about the propriety of Jews celebrating this secular feast, they are limited to the ultra-Orthodox fringe.

But what of those Ḥasidim who do not partake of the Thanksgiving table?

These Jews have their own table, though very few American Jews have ever heard of, let alone attended, it: the rebbe’s Sabbath tish (Yiddish for table), the most sacralized feast in the history of Judaism, with bizarre, mystically infused customs and ritually sanctified foods. The tish, conducted on Friday evenings and before dusk on Saturday, during the s’udah sh’lishit or third meal, is among the most central and enduring religious rituals in ḥasidic life.

Read more at Jewish Ideas Daily

More about: American Jewry, Thanksgiving, United States

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria