Friends, what are YOU grateful for? As Jews we don’t necessarily need to set aside one day a year to remind us of how thankful we are. We start every day with מודה אני לפניך “Modeh ani lefanecha”, “I am so thankful to You, G-d” for this new day in my life.
I thank G-d:
-For family and friends.
-For good health. (I thank Gundersen and Mayo for that, too!)
-For the direction and energy to serve my community.
-For the incredibly warm, welcoming and loving Jewish community here in La Crosse.
-For the many ways in which you have embraced me and my family, and brought us into your family.
-For the people who show up to make a minyan for Shabbat and for Yahrzeits. I want you to know how important this is for the present and future of our community, and how this sets us apart from many other smaller cities.
-For the people who worshipped with us under our tent all spring, summer and fall, and for the big turnout for all the High Holidays.
-For our La Crosse Police Department, who watched over us and kept us safe while we prayed outdoors.
-For the commitment of our congregation to reach out and help those in the greater La Crosse community who are less fortunate than we are.
-For a loving interfaith La Crosse community that supports Israel.
-For a loving interfaith La Crosse community, who defends our right to practice our faith, here in the freest country in the world.
-For our military, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice, or a lifetime of disability, in order to keep us safe.
-For the unparalleled access to God’s gift of nature – the bluffs, the coulees, the Great River and its tributaries, the wildly changing weather. These stand as a testament to G-d’s Creation, and to our faith, which is also ancient. (OK, I admit it, I have stood at the top of Grandad’s Bluff and shed a few tears.)
-For the Native Americans whose land we live and worship on. May their memories always bless us, and may we continue to support them today.
-For the bike paths which radiate out in all directions from our great city. Too bad the biking seasons only lasts from March to November!
-For all the hiking paths in the Coulee Region, especially the new one on Miller Bluff.
-For having the YMCA only a few blocks away, so there’s (almost) no excuse for avoiding exercise, even in the dead of winter.
-For the kosher food section and also the herring and lox section at Woodmans. I often find challah and Entenmann’s products there!
-For the members of our congregation who step up each week, to lead services, to read from the Torah, to make Aliyot, to do Hagbah and Glilah, to act as our Gabbais, and to rebuild our Sukkah each year.
-For our dedicated teachers Betty Butler, Daniel Schneider and Barbara Nagel, who share their love for Judaism with their students.
– For Betty Butler, who has added an incredible component of art to our Sunday School.
-For those who contribute to our synagogue each year. Thank you! Without your generosity, we could not keep the doors open and the lights on, and the heat going.
-For the newly constituted Jewish Community League, who have inherited the wonderful JWL legacy to provide delicious meals and Kiddush kuncheons and holiday celebrations. They are looking towards big things in the new kitchen!
-For Jill Bernstein and her kitchen committee, who have almost completed the huge effort to build an awesome new kitchen, which well serve CSOA well for many years to come.
-For Peter Strauss and his Beautification Committee, who have launched a multi-year project to make our grounds beautiful, functional and meaningful.
-For Scott Butler and our Board, who have shepherded our congregation through a most challenging period.
-And for those who bring your children to Tot Shabbat and to Sunday school, and send your kids to Jewish summer camps, because you know the importance of helping your kids build a Jewish identity and Jewish ethics, and to just hang around with other Jewish kids for a few hours each week. Your kids are the future of our La Crosse Jewish community.
-A special Thank You to Keren and Rabbi Simcha Prombaum, who kept our shul thriving over so many years, and through so many challenges. We can only attribute our success in weathering this recent pandemic to the resilience built into our community by the Prombaums. May their happiness and health only continue to grow in their new home!
-Oh, and thanks to Hungarian Kosher Foods of Chicago, Illinois for the beautiful bird, which will be sacrificed on Thanksgiving.
– May you all have a Joyous and Happy Thanksgiving! and Happy Thanksgivingukkah!
Rabbi Brian Serle