Thanksgiving Prayers and Readings

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

The Torah describes the harvest festival of Sukkot as a time to give thanks to God for the bounty and beauty of the world. Our Jewish holiday inspired the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in 1623 to shape new rituals to express their timeless gratitude.

Temple Beth El is also hosting the 45th Annual MeckMin Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Tuesday, November 24th at 7:00 pm. We choose to honor our congregation’s long history of reaching across lines of difference to welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds as we come together in gratitude to celebrate diversity and pray for unity. Our broader community needs this now more than ever and we are proud to play our part in bringing Charlotte together. Please plan to join us.

Below, please find prayers and readings we hope will enrich your Thanksgiving celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Temple Beth El Clergy and Staff


Hinei Mah Tov

הִנֵה מַה טוֹב וּמַה נַעִים
שֶׁבת אַחִם גַּם יָחַד

Hinei Mah tov u-ma nayim
Shevet achim gam yachad

How good and how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together!


Shehecheyanu

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haOlam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.


A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Feast

From Talking to God by Rabbi Naomi Levy

For the laughter of children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
Without fear,
In any language
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen


Prayer for our Children

(For a Boy)  יְשִׂמְךָ אֱלֹהִים כְּאֶפְרַֽיִם וְכִמְנַשֶׁה.
Yesimcha Elohim k’Ephraim v’chi-Menashe.
May God inspire you to live in the tradition of Ephraim and Manasseh.

(For a Girl) יְשִׂמֵךְ אֱלֹהִים כְּשָׂרָה רִבְקָה רָחֵל וְלֵאָה.
Yesimech Elohim k’Sarah Rivka Rachel v’Leah.
May God inspire you to live in the tradition of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

יְבָרֶכְךָ יְיָ וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ.
יָאֵר יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ.
יִשָׂא יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.

Yivarechecha Adonai v’yishmerecha
Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v’yasem lecha shalom.

May God bless you and guard you.
May the light of God shine upon you, and may God be gracious to you.
May the presence of God be with you and give you peace.


Forever Young

by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.


From The Declaration of Independence

Written by Thomas Jefferson and signed on July 4, 1776

Reader: We are in a truly unique and wonderful country, a land in which our very foundational documents speak of liberty and freedom, equality and truth.
ALL: When in the Course of human events,
Reader: it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another
Reader: and to assume among the powers of the earth,
Reader: the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,
Reader: a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
ALL: We hold these truths to be self-evident
Reader: that all men are created equal
Reader: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
Reader: that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Reader: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
Reader: it is the Right of the People to… institute new Government…
Reader: And for the support of this Declaration
Reader: with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence
ALL: we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame;
With conquering limbs astride from land to land
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


Psalm 100: A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Sing unto God in thanksgiving
Acclaim Adonai with joy, all the earth.
Serve God with gladness;
Come before the
Divine Presence with singing.
Know that Adonai is Adonai;
God made us, and we are God’s;
We are God’s people,
the flock that God shepherds.

Enter into the gates of Adonai
with thanksgiving,
and into God’s courts with praise;
Give thanks unto Adonai,
and bless the holy name.
For Adonai our God is good;
God’s lovingkindness endures forever;
God’s faithfulness is unto all generations.


Prayer for Peace

עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu yaaseh shalom aleinu,
v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru. Amen.

May God, who causes wholeness to exist throughout creation,
also spread that peacefulness over us and upon all Israel and the entire world,
and let us say, “Amen.”


Blessings for Wine and Food

Kiddush
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Borei p’ri hagafen
Blessed are you Eternal our God ruler of the Universe, creator of the fruit of the vine.

For Bread
בָּרוּך אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, haMotzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are you Eternal our God ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

For all kinds of Foods (cakes and pies!):
בָּרוּך אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי מְזוֹנוֹת
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, Borei minei m’zonot.
Blessed are you Eternal our God ruler of the Universe, who brings for various kinds of foods.

For Fruits that Grow on Trees:
בָּרוּך אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֵץ
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, Borei p’ri ha-eitz.
Blessed are you Eternal our God ruler of the Universe, who brings forth fruit of the trees.

For the Fruit that Comes from the Earth:
בָּרוּך אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, Borei p’ri ha’adamah.
Blessed are you Eternal our God ruler of the Universe, who brings forth fruit from the earth.

Brief Birkat Hamazon – Grace After Meals
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַזָּן אֶת הַכֹּל
Baruch atah Adonai, hazan et hakol.
We praise You, Eternal God, who sustains all.