Thanksgiving 2016

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Thanksgiving Lessons [This is a letter from Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch 2016]

 A little known story of our Thanksgiving tradition is both instructive and inspiring today as we celebrate this, the 395th anniversary of the very first Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims celebrated the first such day in 1621, almost four centuries ago. It was a harvest feast and wasn't called "Thanksgiving."  Note here that, given the current "diversity" craze, this feast brought together the Pilgrims and the Native Americanspeacefully.  They came together in a common cause: survival. And with a common purpose: thanks.

Two years later, 1623 the pilgrims did hold what they called "Thanksgiving." It was a religious day of prayer and fasting. Note here the role of faith in the early formation of our American customs – the "Faith of our Fathers, living still."

The Continental Congress declared the first national Thanksgiving on December 18, 1777. And in 1789 George Washington declared the last Thursday in November a National Day of Thanksgiving.

These declarations did not make it an official holiday, however. That wouldn't come until a magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, began a write-in campaign, eventually beseeching five U.S. presidents to declare the day a national holiday. And finally, in 1863, rightly believing it would help heal a divided nation, Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official holiday.

I like this story for several reasons. First of all, it reminds us that there have always been grave divisions in our country – but that we have always overcome them and united as one people.

And equally – at times, perhaps, even more – importantly it shows what one person can do to influence the federal government and preserve and protect the land we love. And, really, isn't that our charge as citizens today?

It is for this latter reason that on this Thanksgiving 2016, in particular, I pause to "give thanks upon every remembrance of you." (Philippians 1:3) And I am reminded anew of the words of one of a favorite Thanksgiving songs;

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;

He chastens and hastens his will to make known;

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.

Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

All of us here at Judicial Watch wish you a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Biblical Roots of Thanksgiving

Notice what David Stern says about the Feast of Tabernacles in The Jewish New Testament Commentary: “Families build booths of palm branches, partly open to the sky, to recall God’s providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert and living in tents.

The festival also celebrates the harvest, coming, as it does, at summer’s end, so that it is a time of thanksgiving. (The Puritans, who took the Old Testament more seriously than most Christians, modeled the American holiday of Thanksgiving after Sukkot [the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles])” (1996, comment on John 7:2).

This connection is not well known among most secular U.S. historians, but the Jews, who also arrived very early at the New England colonies, have kept track of this historical parallel.

“As Leviticus 23 teaches,” explains Barney Kasdan, “Sukkot was to be a time of bringing in the latter harvest. It is, in other words, the Jewish ‘Thanksgiving.’ In fact, it is widely believed that the Puritan settlers, who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures, based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot” ( God’s Appointed Times, 1993, p. 92).

William Bradford, who became the first Pilgrim governor and proclaimed the first Thanksgiving celebration, used the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments—for guidance in governing the colony.

“Though it’s a uniquely American tradition,” adds a Jewish Web site, “the roots of Thanksgiving go back to ancient Israel. In a real sense, the Jews invented Thanksgiving. I count 28 references to the word thanksgiving in the King James Bible—all but six in the Old Testament. For the ancient children of Israel, thanksgiving was a time of feasting and fasting, of praising God, of singing songs. It was a rich celebration—and still is for observant Jews today.

Bradford himself studied the Hebrew scriptures. The Pilgrims took them very seriously. The idea of giving thanks to God with a feast was inspired by that knowledge of the Bible. In a very real way, the Pilgrims saw themselves, too, as chosen people of God being led to a Promised Land…

“In addition to proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, like the ancient Hebrews did before them, Bradford and his flock also praised God’s loving kindness, the famous refrain of Psalms 106 and 107 and Jewish liturgy (‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His kindness endures forever’)” (“Thanksgiving, The Puritans and Prayer,”



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