Top of Mind Thursday – November 23, 2023: A Different Thanksgiving This Year

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Thanksgiving this year feels different.

This year, we have two wars waging. The Ukrainians are still fighting to preserve their independence from Russian aggression, and in Israel, the war against Hamas atrocities and terrorism continues.

It’s not the first time families will feel sadness and loss at the absence of family members who have been killed, tortured, or are missing in action. This year, though, there are also nearly 240 Israelis—including the elderly, women, and young children—who are being held hostage underneath Gaza by Hamas. Communities around the world have set empty tables, like the one above, to ensure we keep them in our minds and in our hearts.

This Thanksgiving, while we are grateful for all we have in our lives, we need to remember those who are less fortunate. While we wonder how to handle prickly family discussions over dinner, we need to remember those who would give anything to have a missing family member back to argue with. And while we are relieved that a temporary pause in the fighting will allow some Israeli hostages to be brought home imminently, we need to remember that no one in that region will be really safe while Hamas holds not just Israel, but all of Gaza hostage.

This year, let’s serve reflection and concern together with our festive holiday meal. And let’s be grateful for those who are willing to stand up to all forms of hatred and oppression—even at the risk of their own lives. For all those who fight back and will accept nothing less than what’s right, we are truly grateful.

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