Growing up a vegetarian, I never felt entitled to the same love for Thanksgiving as my fellow turkey-gobbling countrymen. With that said, I could not imagine ignoring the fourth Thursday of November, just because I am nearly 6000 miles away from the land where pilgrims and Indians broke bread in yesteryear.
One of the many organizations programming for expats stationed in Jerusalem hosted a Thanksgiving dinner I could not turn down. The event boasted lots of thanksgiving staples — sweet potatoes, squash soup and turkey — as well as some interesting variations on American cuisine — marshmallow platters, chicken fajitas and Chinese spring rolls.
The entertainment was infinitely more memorable than the food. Two women dressed as something unidentifiable (gypsies? exotic dancers?) wandered around the dinner hall on stilts. The combination of the dressed-up stilt-walkers and a smiling pumpkin printed on the event flyers made us question if the organizers had confused Thanksgiving with Halloween.
After dinner Hatikva 6 (Hope 6), Israel’s most popular reggae band, played a private concert. I really enjoyed the concert, despite the questionable context. The band’s final song was some sort of analysis of Obama’s politics. Because of the speedy lyrics and the fact that the only repeated words were “Obama, Obama, Barack Hussein Obama,” I couldn’t gauge the reggae musicians’ stance on the president. However, I was surely convinced they had absolutely no idea the dinner celebrated an American holiday.
The event ended as any wholesome Thanksgiving dinner should. A woman running the show shouted to the stationary guests in food comas, “We’re serving ice cream with arak, so if you want ice cream with alcohol , come now.” As a final twist to the evening the costumed stilt-walkers from dinner turned into fire-dancers eating flames.