Thanksgiving Prayers

The ancient Rabbis taught that the most important prayer in Jewish liturgy is the Modim prayer, the prayer of thanksgiving. The first line begins “We gratefully acknowledge.” This prayer is said every day, three times daily – because it is part of every T’filah or Amidah, the “standing prayer”. In fact, many Jews start their day using similar words: modeh ani lefanecha – I give thanks before You (God).

Acknowledging or praising God is the central idea of psalms. In fact the word “modem” is used 67 times, in phrases such as: “It is good to praise Adonai….”; “Give thanks to God …” We see that praising God is fundamental to prayer.

Every day, at least three times a day, we are taught to take a moment to say, “Thank you God, Baruch HaShem. I am grateful. You have given me so much and I am so filled with gratitude to you for your miracles that surround us every day.”

Sometimes it is hard to say thank you. Sometimes life can be painful and it’s hard to find something that calls us to praise God or thank God. But our tradition teaches us that we continue to praise, we continue to thank, even when it is difficult, even when we don’t want to. The Rabbis taught us that we should find 100 opportunities when we can say thank you. Now they didn’t tell us to say thank you 100 times – they said find 100 opportunities to say thank you. When we are looking for opportunities for thanking God, blessings appear before us. Food to eat, water to sustain us, a home, family, friends, a beautiful tree, a rose, a scholar…we thank God for our lives which are in God’s keeping.

During this season of Thanksgiving, be conscious of all you have in your life. That little voice will start reminding you of your troubles and try to stop your gratefulness. Shush it away, and just this week, try to acknowledge all of the reasons you have to say: Modim Anachnu Lach – I give thanks to You.

May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,

Rabbi Debbie Israel


As we mourn the recent loss of life in Paris, some have called for a slowing or halt to the entry of refugees into the U.S. Such steps would not honor our history as a haven from those seeking persecution; we can keep our doors open and maintain our national security.

Please consider signing our action alert and sending it to Senators Boxer and Feinstein. Additionally, because many Senators will be home for Thanksgiving recess, now is a great time to call Senator Boxer’s and Feinstein’s district offices or set up an in person meeting.

Here is the number for Senator Boxer’s State office: (916) 448-2787

Here is the number for Senator Boxer’s Washington, D.C. office:(202) 224-3553

Here is the number for Senator Feinstein’s State office: (415) 393-0707

Here is the number for Senator Feinstein’s Washington, D.C. office:(202) 224-3841

The Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill similar to  The American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 (H.R. 4038) recently passed by the House and which would effectively stop all Iraq and Syrian refugee resettlement. We oppose this legislation and by raising your voice to your members of Congress, you can help ensure that the United States remains a safe haven for the many fleeing violence and persecution.