The Sacrificial Turkey

By: Aaron Shaykevich  |  November 20, 2023

By Aaron Shaykevich, Editor-in-Chief

The Jewish experience can feel extremely isolating. Every day for the past month I have been so thankful to be a YU student, and it is clear to me now more than ever how much I live in the YU bubble. I get to write an article announcing my Jewish pride, and no one bats an eye. All the more so I get to run a paper whose entire focus has been on sharing voices of Jewish students  who feel the need to be heard. I can see that I am lucky. I also know that this needs to change; being Jewish should not feel like a crime.

The United States is not safe today, yet we celebrate a holiday rooted in its culture. A holiday celebrating the first harvest of the Pilgrims in 1621. A holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. Thanksgiving, the holiday of thanks. 

As every year, we have off from school for Thanksgiving. And I will be the first to admit – it’s a welcomed holiday. We haven’t had a break since Sukkot and won’t get another one until Chanukah. I can not wait to kick back, relax, and eat some pumpkin pie. 

The U.S. has usually been a safe place for Jews, and by all accounts still is (albeit less safe than usual). Usually, Thanksgiving is a reflection on how good we have it. My grandparents came from Soviet Russia where being a religious Jew was a crime and Jews would have to hide their Jewish identity or face severe discrimination. They’ve always told me how good it is in the U.S. and how lucky we are to live in a free country. 

At the Washington D.C. rally this past Tuesday, with over 300,000 Jews, many of the flags held up were a mix of the American and Israeli flag. Throughout the current war the U.S. has helped Israel at every step, so obviously I am thankful.

But we cannot use the day as a break, to praise our country, when our homeland is at war. 

Thanksgiving is, in essence, a “truce.” A day where all Americans put their differences aside and celebrate their love of free speech and fast food. But now is not the time to take off from defending our right to exist. When we return to our homes, sit down for a meal, and celebrate a country that has allowed and fostered such hatred of Jews, the other side gets away with it. I do not intend to give the enemy the satisfaction of us pausing our fight that day. 

Being thankful for what we do have in the U.S. is uncalled for when our brothers and sisters are suffering, when we face rising antisemitism, and when crowds of U.S. citizens call for our death. 

This Thanksgiving needs to be a celebration of what could be. What could be when Israel is no longer at war. What could be when Jews are not constantly facing antisemitism. Sing the Hatikvah this Thanksgiving. Say tehillim. And never give up, even for one day.