At Jewish Learning Venture, we have much to be grateful for: the wisdom of our staff as well as the wisdom of those in the community with whom we’re fortunate to work.  As we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, we are reminded of this gratitude by jkidphilly mom Miriam Steinberg-Egeth and jkidphilly staff Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, who both posted blogs on this month. Here are some excerpts:

Gratitude: Make It Normal, Special & Real

By Miriam Steinberg-Egeth

On Sunday afternoon, I taught a class to a group of 8th graders that covered, among other topics, the importance of community, why we perform acts of gimilut chasidim (lovingkindness), and the fact that you are more likely to get in a car accident than you are to get Ebola. Then, driving home from the class, I was in a car accident (thereby hopefully reducing my already infinitesimally small chances of getting Ebola to zero).

I was hit from behind and ended up towards the front of a five car chain reaction, with my car attached to the one behind me. I called 911, I called my husband, I checked in with the other drivers, I watched as one driver was transported by ambulance to the hospital, I thanked whatever G-d meant to me in that particular moment and thanked the universe that I was walking away unharmed. (Continue reading…)

Gratitude and Joy

By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

In this month of Thanksgiving—with December just around the corner—it’s an ideal time to consider the benefits of practicing gratitude. I say “practice” because living in gratitude takes some daily work for most of us. It’s certainly not a way of being that is very supported by the consumer-oriented society we live in, that constantly pushes more, newer, better stuff. It takes some attention and action to tune out the commercials and tune our personal dials to the gratitude station. Fortunately, in our Jewish tradition, we have a bounty of rituals that can help us focus us on being thankful—from saying the “Modeh Ani” prayer in the morning to pausing before eating and offering a blessing for our food.

As I’ve gotten older and maybe a little bit wiser, I realize that while I do like and appreciate stuff, what I want most is to live a life full of joy and to share my love and feeling of blessing with my family, friends and community.  For me, joy and gratitude are intimately connected—joy increases when I spend less time bitching. Joy increases when I accept and appreciate my imperfections and everything that is messy and sometimes hard in my life. Joy increases when I take time every day to focus on my fortune. (Continue reading…)

From our family at Jewish Learning Venture to yours, we wish you a meaningful Thanksgiving – with much gratitude!