May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Nov. 23, 2006
/ 2 Kislev, 5767
Reconsidering the Thanksgiving myths
"Twas founded be th' Puritans to give thanks f'r bein' presarved fr'm th' Indyans, an' . . . we keep it to give thanks we are presarved fr'm th' Puritans."
Finley Peter Dunne
But the Pilgrims who bequeathed to us Thanksgiving were not Puritans, at least as we use that term to denote busybodies bent on extirpating dissipation, meaning fun. Excessive merriment was not a pressing problem for the half of the Mayflower's 102 passengers who survived the first few months in wintry Massachusetts.
True, the Pilgrims left Holland for America in part because the Dutch had too much fun, even on Sunday, when the Pilgrims' services would last four hours, the congregation standing throughout. And two Pilgrim brothers did quarrel because one said the other was "blinded, bewitched and besotted" by his wife, a "bouncing girl who wore whalebones in her breast, an excessive deal of lace and a showish hat."
But the Pilgrims went to America, writes Godfrey Hodgson, not to become American but to remain English and devout. Rather than tarry among the licentious Dutch, they would risk life among Indians who, they had heard, flayed prisoners with scallop shells. Soon a Pilgrim was instructing Indians in the Ten Commandments, "all of which they harkened unto with great attention, and liked well of; only the seventh commandment they excepted against, thinking there were many inconveniences in it, that a man should be tied to one woman."
Hodgson is a British journalist and historian. His "A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving" makes clear that the Pilgrims embarked on the angry North Atlantic in storm season not because they wanted to impose their strict ways on anyone but to avoid being bothered by anyone.
|BUY THE BOOK|
to purchase it at a discount. (Sales help fund
It was not until the Cold War in the 1950s that American historians, seizing upon John Winthrop's sermon ("we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us"), suggested that the Pilgrims pioneered "American exceptionalism" by adopting a universal mission to cure this fallen world of corruptions. An American cold warrior, Ronald Reagan, was to wield that "city upon a hill" trope 30 years later while ending the Cold War.
The first Thanksgiving feast involved a few dozen English settlers and perhaps a few hundred Native Americans who, Hodgson reports, "protected themselves from cold, insect bites and so on with a thick layer of fat or grease. This may have made them smelly at close quarters though hardly smellier than the Europeans, who changed their clothes rarely." The dinner probably did not include turkey, which was rarer in Massachusetts than in England, where it had been introduced from the Mediterranean, hence its name.
This year, when one of the Transportation Security Administration's 43,000 airport screeners (perhaps two times more numerous than were Native Americans in 1620 in what is now eastern Massachusetts) confiscated a traveler's too-large tube of toothpaste, the traveler perhaps thought: Life is hard. So it is timely for Hodgson to remind us of the admiration that is due "as a tiny band of men and women, determined to follow what they believe to be the ordinances of their G-d, entrust themselves to the wild freezing ocean; confront disease, starvation, ferocious enemies and justified fear."
Thanksgiving, Hodgson notes, is an echo of the breaking of bread at the heart of Christian worship, and of a Jewish Seder. It also is a continuation, in today's abundance, of harvest festivals around the world, which began millennia ago, when abundance was so rare as to seem miraculous.
|FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER|
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Hodgson thinks that Thanksgiving expresses "the deepest of all American national feelings" gratitude. It is the inclusive gratitude "of a nation of immigrants who have lived for the most part in peace and plenty under the rule of law as established with the consent of the governed." Celebrated by turning inward with family, Thanksgiving is, Hodgson thinks, a counterpoint to Americans' other great civic festival, the Fourth of July:
"It is good to celebrate the public glories and the promise of American life with fireworks and speeches, better still to celebrate the mysterious cycle of life, the parade of the generations, and the fragile miracle of plenty, in the small warm circle of family, the building brick of which all prouder towers have always been constructed."
An Englishman (Samuel Johnson) said that people more often need to be reminded than informed. Sometimes Americans need a sympathetic foreigner, such as Hodgson, to remind them of the dignity of what they are doing, on this day and all others.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.
© 2006 WPWG
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K