Originally celebrated in 1910, becoming a national holiday under President Nixon in 1972 (58 years after Mother’s Day was ordained), today’s Father’s Day is a classic Hallmark Holiday steeped in consumerism, commercialism, and that spark of joy that seems to keep the holiday rolling. Progressive minds shake a fist to the gender divide of Father’s and Mother’s Days, why not a Parent’s/Parents’ Day, it is 2019, after all? (A totally fair question, after all, in Israel, “Family Day” takes place on the 30th of the Hebrew month Shevat.)
But alas, the tradition of Father’s Day continues to appear on the calendar year after year celebrating fathers and the men who raised us. How can we add a bit of Judaism to this otherwise secular (though not absent of church influence in its origin) day?
For those who celebrate, I invite you to begin the day in gratitude toward the father figure for whom you are celebrating.
In Jewish tradition, we begin each morning in gratitude to God with the prayer, Modeh/Modah Ani. In this prayer we thank God for restoring our soul and trusting us to live out our lives. Just as God provides us with the world, many of us grew up with fathers who gave us so much: they taught us how to do things (and sometimes how not to do things), they supported us in the ups and downs of life, and they found ways to connect with us.
Whether our fathers are with us here physically, or their presence is felt in our spiritual life and in our memories, may each of us set aside a few moments on this coming Father’s Day to give thanks. Not just with a physical gift or a card, but with actual words: In person, on the phone, or speaking out loud to ourselves and the spirit of our beloved. May we give gratitude to the men in our lives who have treated us with kindness and love, and may we offer them words thanks.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Father’s Day,