A Time to Say Thank You

If we all join, globally, to take stock of all that we are grateful for – – – what new strength might our community find?

By Anat Silverstone, Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz, Heather Wolfson, Joelle Asaro Berman, Lisa Barkan Matitya, Shuki Taylor
and Yael Milgalter

In a recent Harvard Medical School newsletter, gratitude was defined as follows:

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
-Healthbeat, Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier

Jewish tradition has known this to be true for centuries. Every Siddur – prayer book – prompts us to start our day with the blessing of “Modeh Ani.” We begin our day by acknowledging all that we are grateful for. What is in us and what is around us. 

For many, Modeh Ani is recited unconditionally – through times of joy and loss, challenge and accomplishment. Unconditionally – but not easily. It is not always easy to find what to be grateful for, especially in a time of darkness. Yet over and over research tells us that gratitude is a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

This is why we have launched Days of Gratitude, so that we can collectively and purposefully strengthen our gratitude muscle. Together as a community and especially now in the face of the pandemic.

Days of Gratitude is an invitation to partake in a week-long, daily expression of gratitude from May 22-30, culminating in the Festival of Shavuot. The Days of Gratitude website will feature a rotating menu of activities, prompts and videos by prominent scholars designed to help Jewish communities, families, movements, schools and individuals share gratitude. 

Once you sign up, you will receive a daily newsletter with a variety of different activities and resources to help you and those around you practice gratitude. 

Each day will emphasize a different expression of gratitude, including some of the following themes:

  • The people who care for me,  
  • The people who face me
  • That which is around me
  • The people who got me to where I am,
  • The people and places I take action with
  • That which is beyond me

Days of Gratitude is based on the highly successful Ten Days of Gratitude initiative launched in Israel eight years ago by Beit Prat. In conversation about how we might best respond and exercise positive leadership globally during these dark times, Days of Gratitude grew as a partnership between members of the Schusterman Fellowship – an international community of leaders from across the spectrum of the Jewish community. 

We recognized that by turning to gratitude, we can build – on our own and together – a stronger today and a better tomorrow for the Jewish community worldwide. 

We invite you to join us – whether as individuals or communities. Like dozens of other global and local organizations who have already joined us, you can join as a partner and participate as a congregation, school, movement and more.  

To learn more; to sign up for your daily dose of gratitude; to partner with us and to watch words of encouragement from Sheryl Sandberg, Tal Ben Shachar and Mayim Bialik – see www.gratitudedays.com.

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Days of Gratitude was created in Israel by the Beit Prat – Israeli Midrasha and is ignited worldwide by M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and the collaboration of Senior Schusterman Fellows. For further information contact info@gratitudedays.com.

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Anat Silverstone is  Executive Director of Beit Prat – Israeli Midrasha, Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz is Executive Director of Kol HaOt, Heather Wolfson is CEO of Maven Coaching and Consulting, Joelle Asaro Berman is a facilitation and experience design consultant, Lisa Barkan Matitya is a marketing and PR consultant, Shuki Taylor is CEO of M2: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and Yael Milgalter is a nonprofit management consultant.