The Tish and the Thanksgiving Table

Nov. 27 2020

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

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy