Friday, November 18, 2016

An Ecumenical Thanksgiving

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz


When I recently asked members of my Confirmation class to name their most important holiday, several mentioned Thanksgiving “because the whole family gets together.”

Upon discussion, it emerged that for many of our interfaith families, it was the only time that Jewish and non-Jewish members of the extended family gathered together.

Indeed, Thanksgiving has always had an intriguing ecumenical appeal. As a civil holiday for all Americans, it has been a natural gathering time not only for families, but community. Such is the case right here in Leonia. Our annual Community Thanksgiving Service represents the sole meeting of our various houses of worship.

While I look forward to participating in this ecumenical event each year, I have to admit to being a bit dispirited by the diminishing support for this celebration. Part of this has to do with the decline of the faith community in our town. As some of you know, the Lutheran Church in Leonia has closed its doors; its lovely building was recently razed, and my colleague Rev. Peggy no longer serves its pulpit. Over at the Catholic Church, dear Sister Pat, who kept the ecumenical flame glowing there, has retired. Rev. Deborah, of the Presbyterian Church, who kept us Leonia clergy organized, has also retired.

But Pastor David of the Methodist Church, Rev. Dean of the Episcopal Church and I are committed to maintaining our interfaith collegiality. And we are happy to welcome interim pastor Leah of the Presbyterian Church as a new colleague. In fact, we have asked her to preach at this year’s Thanksgiving service, which we will host on Monday, Nov. 21 (8:00pm). Cantor Horowitz and talented vocalists from all our participating congregations will add to the celebration.

I invite you to join us not only to show that we are good hosts, but also to show your support for the ecumenical spirit this service represents. While there are some other occasions when we may get together with other residents of our town, they are purely civil events. Thanksgiving represents a true ecumenism of shared worship and fellowship. And for that I think we should be truly thankful.

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