My sister recalls that I came home from Kindergarten and told my mother that I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving. At that point my parents and sister would have been living in the United States for about seven years, and were open to the idea of celebrating this “American” holiday. That was the beginning of a new tradition for our family, Thanksgiving dinner.
I remember my mother roasting a turkey, prepared the same way she prepared roast chicken for Shabbat, with lots of garlic, salt and pepper. She made candied sweet potatoes, a dish she learned from my cousin’s housekeeper Edith, and a delicious stuffing made with challah, mushrooms, celery, carrots and caramelized onions. It was sort of an Eastern European Thanksgiving dinner. No guests, no fanfare, no cornucopia, but I always found it special and meaningful.
As a child of immigrants, the Thanksgiving narrative of people who came to America searching for religious freedom always resonated with me. As a child of survivors, I understood that my family had much to be thankful for. It was not a story from a textbook, it was the story of my family. America welcomed them and gave them a fresh start, shelter, the ability to live openly and proudly as Jews, and a place to put down roots and watch their families grow and flourish. For each of those reasons, and more, I will always be thankful.
Our Thanksgiving dinner is very traditional, given some dietary restrictions. We have mulled cider, Turkey, stuffing, corn bread, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 12 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips, tossed with 1 tbsp flour
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Combine eggs with oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Stir into dry ingredients. Fold chocolate chips in to batter. Divide mixture among three greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for one hour or until toothpick inserted into loaf comes out dry.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.