When I was a child, I used to struggle with the relationship between the American holidays and my Jewish identity. I was never quite sure how to think about Thanksgiving. Then, 10 years ago this week, I attended a Bar Mitzvah on Thanksgiving. In the Rabbi's speech, he started by saying that Thanksgiving was the most Jewish of the American holidays. That cleared it up for me. That one little statement is one of the most useful things a Rabbi has ever said to me.
Tomorrow many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. All over the USA, families get together and celebrate the tradition in their own way, combining American traditions with those of their ancestors. As we gather with relatives for a kosher Thanksgiving, as Jews we struggle (at least in family) with the concept of a pareve dessert. In my family, we believe that dessert should be chocolate and creamy, preferably topped with ice cream. We have no interest in Honey cakes or fruit pies. In addition, half my family needs to eat gluten-free which makes those cakes and pies a serious challenge, definitely not worth the effort.
The first trick to dessert is to buy pareve baking chocolate or chocolate chips. It can be found all year round, although I find it easiest to buy extra at Passover time and store it in a cool spot (but not the refrigerator). Over the years, I have compiled the following short list of pareve chocolate desserts that my family is happy to enjoy:
- Chocolate Mousse
- Chocolate covered strawberries and marshmallows (or other fruit)
- Chocolate chip meringues
Since we must wait to eat dairy after meat, but not the other way around, I have come up with another simple solution which is to eat dessert first. A wonderful dairy dessert can be enjoyed at snack time when the guests arrive, and then the turkey and other traditional foods can be enjoyed much later, at a normal dinner time. My children think this is a great idea.
Whether you eat dessert first or last, I want to wish you and your family a happy healthy, delicious, and safe Thanksgiving.