Q & A: Ask the Rabbi

Q & A: Is it Permissible to Celebrate Thanksgiving?


May i have guests over tomorrow for lunch and have a turkey? It happens to be Thanksgiving day and I gathered the family because everyone is off on this day. Is it considered to be avoda zara (idol worship)?
Thank you


To the Questioner, 

If your intent is to make a family gathering just because it is a secular day off in the yearly work calander, it is permissible. 

However, if your gathering and meal is connected to celebrating Thanksgiving in any way, for example to serve turkey, it is a machlokes haposkim (disagreement in Halachic decision) among the contemporary Poskim, and therefore you must ask your personal family Rav as to his halachic rendering and as to how your family should procede. 


Poskim who are of the opinion that one may celebrate Thanksgiving:

Igros Moshe (Yoreh Deah vol. 4, 57, 11) – when not done in the form of a yearly obligatory observance, Rav Eliezer Silver z”l, Rav Yosef Dov  Soloveitchik z”l, the Rivevos Efraim, and Bnei Banim (vol. 3, 37).

Poskim who are of the opinion that one may not celebrate Thanksgiving:

Rav Hutner z”l, Rav Avigdor Miller z”l, Mishna Halachos (10:116), and ybchl”ch Rav Feivel Cohen shlit”a.
Rav Dovid Cohen (of Gevul Ya’avetz) is of the opinion that it is not prohibited for a family to get together on a day off from work and eat turkey together, as long as they do so not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but rather because they like turkey.

With Blessings, 
Rav Nachum


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