Indeed, immigrant communities often struggle with loyalties to the social mores of their old country and their new one. In the world of philanthropy and volunteerism, many Jewish leaders have learned that immigrant Jewish communities also have attitudes different from their American-born Jewish brothers and sisters. Those attitudes stem from the political systems and types of communities from which they came and what was expected of them in their native lands.
Thanksgiving is the holiday to which most American Jews fully relate. It's based on the biblical Sukkot, and it's the American holiday most associated with family gatherings and food. And yet, there is much more to the holiday than stuffing and pumpkin pie.
Ever since I moved to this country 25 years ago, I've been in awe of how 250 million people stop everything during the fourth Thursday of November to gather around cranberry sauce, stuffing and bread pudding.This year, however, being in the Orthodox hood, where they celebrate a Jewish version of Thanksgiving twice a week -- on Friday night and Shabbat lunch, without turkey and TV but with lots of prayers, blessings and songs, and at least as much food -- I've been experiencing something a little different: a respectful but slightly blasé attitude toward this big American holiday.