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Topic: Kosher Turkey

Bob Mogel from Omaha, Nebraska wrote:

Dear Rabbi:

One of my friends is Jewish. Is it ok to invite him to Thanksgiving at my house? If so, is there anything I should not serve, given the Jewish dietary laws? Is there any special way the turkey should be served or cooked? I was wondering Jews themselves celebrate Thanksgiving? Thank you for taking my question.

Dear Bob Mogel,

First of all let me commend you on your sensitivity and on your inquiry.

Keeping kosher is easy for those who keep a kosher home. However, the kosher laws are very comprehensive and complex, and include the way the turkey is slaughtered, prepared, cooked, and even how it is served and eaten. It would be beyond the scope of this forum to explain how to prepare a kosher meal in your home for a one time basis.

Regarding your second question: I think most American Jews observe Thanksgiving the same way most Americans do, as a break from work and a time to gather with family perhaps even to offer a word of thanks to G-d but not really as a religious holiday. Many religious Jews do not observe it at all, since it is a non-Jewish custom and since we are anyway obligated to give thanks to G-d every day of the year.

Interestingly, Thanksgiving has "Jewish" roots. The Pilgrims based Thanksgiving on the Torah (Bible), in which G-d commands us Jews to celebrate the Harvest Festival. This festival is called Succot, the Festival of Booths, which Jews have been celebrating for several thousand years.

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