Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Jewish Prayers For Thanksgiving? Yes, There’s A Long History

Are there Jewish prayers specifically for Thanksgiving? Absolutely, says Alan Brill, a professor of Jewish Studies Seton Hall University who writes about history and trends in Jewish spirituality and practice on his blog — it’s a tradition with a long history.

In a post this week, Brill ran through more than two century’s worth of Jewish prayers and sermons delivered around Thanksgiving.

Perhaps the earliest known American Jewish sermon on Thanksgiving comes from Gershom Mendes Seixas, who in 1789 penned a long 40-page sermon for the very first national Thanksgiving. In 1905, as a special commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in the United States, H. Pereira Mendes, of the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue of New York, wrote his own special prayer.

One particularly popular Thanksgiving prayer comes from Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein of New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. The 1940 prayer is organized in a series of verses thanking God for blessings and praying for guidance.

The prayer also evokes patriotic ideals.

“We pray sincerely for America and the ideals of democracy and freedom that are here enshrined. May she be strong to withstand all the currents that assail her and all the forces of evil that would invade her sacred precincts,” the prayer goes. “A tower of light to her own citizenry, may she cast a steady beam and light up all the dark areas of the world and show to a perplexed and straying humanity the path of freedom, of life and of peace.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum




    NY-12 Candidate Forum


    Aug 10, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    Will the last Jew left in New York’s congressional delegation be reelected? Will New York’s senior congresswoman receive another term? Or will one of the newcomers upend Manhattan politics?

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit the Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, images, and credit to the Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.