Yankee Doodle: Inge David’s Thanksgiving party looks dandy   Photo: Or Hayoun

Thanksgiving is and always has been my very favorite holiday - a holiday which my guests and I look forward to from one year to the next. We all have so very much for which to be grateful and we generally go round the table for each person to tell for what he/she is grateful and what good thing has happened since the last time we were all together.

The annual celebration of Thanksgiving had already been a family tradition for many years in the United States, dating back to the 1940s, and friends would come each year to join in the fun. The creation of the meal was a family affair and we each had a designated task. My mother stuffed and roasted the big, beautiful bird, my father was an expert at the carving, and my brother and I were in charge of grating the potatoes for the dumplings which were an integral part of our holiday meal. And, of course, like today, there was the cranberry relish, the pumpkin pie and the various accompanying side dishes usually provided by our guests.

 I arrived in Herzliya in 1986, and a few years thereafter the Thanksgiving tradition was reborn. It began small with new friends who had also come from the States, but has now over the many years grown to include family members and more friends. One year there were 23 of us sitting around the table - a bit crowded but all the same it was a joyful evening, full of happy laughter and Thanksgiving songs. I now try to keep the list down to a more comfortable 18 guests, and there is still much joy and laughter and song.

Each year as guests are invited, there follows the inevitable question - What can I bring? This can be a problem - if each person brings something there is invariably too much food which my guests do not wish to take back home; what to do with all the leftovers?

One year I asked everyone please NOT to bring anything towards the meal but this was no solution as everyone brought a gift instead. Thinking hard, I then decided this year to ask everyone instead of bringing food or a gift, to bring a monetary donation for ESRA's "Food for the Hungry" project. I talked this over with my son who approved of the idea, and the invitation read: "No food or gifts please, this year we will help to feed the hungry so that they too can enjoy a satisfying meal".

I had planned to take a small box, cut a slot into the top for everyone to drop in whatever amount they wanted to give. By chance I attended an ESRA volunteer meeting at which Brenda Katten produced a new item - a tzedaka box featuring the ESRA logo - just what I needed; I was able to obtain one and placed it prominently onto my buffet table. It was quickly filled.

When a few days later I brought the tzedaka box - unopened - back to the ESRA office, Brenda happened to be there and I gave it to her to open, withdraw the money and count it. She first shook it but it made no noise - no coins, only bills, lots of them. When they were all out, she counted them, several times, and found NS440 - all this from one dinner.

As word spread through the office there was much joy and excitement, and I was asked to write this article in the hope that others planning a special dinner might be inspired to place an ESRA Tzedaka Box on their table for their guests to fill.

Once the box was empty I wanted to return it, but I was asked to keep it; it is now ready and waiting to be filled once again, G-d willing, at next year's Thanksgiving feast.

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Inge David

Inge David was born in Germany, and educated in the United States. She has a degree in Physical Therapy from the US and worked in a private practice an...
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