A Chanukah Message from Chana Shapiro

A Chanukah Message from Chana Shapiro

Read community insights, advice and perspectives during Chanukah.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Chana Shapiro
Chana Shapiro

Judaism helps us fight against taking things for granted. Every day, the first words out of our mouths upon awakening are, “I give thanks before You, eternal King, for having restored to me my soul.” The morning Modeh Ani prayer, which means I Am Thankful, had never been more poignant for me than when waking up in good health every morning during the pandemic.

We are reminded to be thankful for life’s experiences, and our awareness is heightened when we respond with focused blessings. Here are eight common occurrences that Judaism encourages us to see as wondrous by reciting blessings of gratitude, specific for each one: Having sight; smelling something pleasant; hearing thunder; seeing a rainbow; donning a new garment; having food to eat; standing up and being able to stretch; and — especially for me at this moment — putting on shoes.

I recently broke a metatarsal bone in my foot and will be wearing a boot and using crutches for many more weeks. I can’t wait to put shoes on both my feet, and when that time comes, I will joyfully express gratitude with the blessing I only recently learned and had never before recited.

In the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun,” Annie Oakley sings a song that expresses the kind of openhearted gratitude I want to emulate, “I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night … I’m all right!” From morning until evening, we are given unending opportunities to appreciate our world, and Judaism has given words to those sentiments for thousands of years. One more thing to be grateful for!

Chana Shapiro is a contributing writer to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

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