Will we have an Erev Thanksgiving service in 2020? YES! Mark your calendars for an online, live service with the St. Clare’s AND the Temple Beth Emeth communities on Sunday, November 22, at 7 p.m. Connect using this link: https://templebethemeth.zoom.us/j/94527275148.
The following article, written by Judy Avery for the St Clarian back in the day that it was printed on paper, gives a bit of context about our Erev Thanksgiving tradition.
There was a time a few years back when coverage of the Genesis Erev Thanksgiving service appeared on CNN, one of those things that got repeated throughout the day on Thanksgiving, in with updates on football games and, I suppose, actual news. As it happens, a brief clip of me saying something inane was one portion of this, using up a few seconds of my fifteen minutes of fame.
That was the year that we moved into the current sanctuary, and the folks at CNN may have reminded us briefly of something we tend to forget: Jews and Christians owning a building for worship together is so uncommon that the last I heard we really don’t know of any other such arrangements. And the concept of Jews and Christians actually building a new temple/church together with joint funding and all, well, that was news—the kind of news to view in snippet form while waiting for or recovering from the family dinner on this most American of holidays.
We’re certainly not the only ones who have an interfaith service on Thanksgiving eve. What makes us different is that we’re all in our own space, space that is church or temple depending on the day of the week. Part of the fun, in fact, is seeing who it is from the other congregation that gravitates toward those same seats you sit in. The service is indeed fun with its joint choir and readings from both lectionaries. It was the St. Clare’s people who insisted on a Torah reading, so to balance that the Gospel got added, too, with a section from the Sermon on the Mount: not your usual “interfaith” service that tries to avoid being of any particular faith whatever.
The preacher switches from year to year, but I’m sure it was a St. Clare’s preacher who made an observation I remember. We’re here together on this American holiday that has its roots in those Pilgrim forebears. Surely the greatest irony, he said, is that the only ones the Pilgrims hated more than the Jews were the Anglicans. And we all laughed about it together.
After the service that CNN attended, they stopped some people for brief interviews that would get cut to sound bites. The friend I was standing with [Richard Bailey] gave an elegant description of what we’re about. Then the mike got shoved in my throat and I did the best I could, not elegantly at all: From Genesis I’ve learned a lot about Jews. And from that I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be a Christian. Turned out to be a sound bite. And they got my name wrong.