Celebrating diversity before Turkey Day

Way, way back in November of 2002, I went to the Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook to see the local unveiling of  “America’s Table,” a Thanksgiving reader developed by the American Jewish Committee.

The 15-page reader was designed to help any family, Jewish or not, add meaning to their Thanksgiving meal by discussing the immigrant experience in America.

Close to 50 people from different backgrounds took part, reading aloud. Several talked about the immigrant journeys of their ancestors.

I quoted Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski afterward: “Before I came to this breakfast, I felt weird. Now I feel normal.”

It was a unifying experience. That was the idea.

The Westchester chapter of the AJC has continued to hold annual Thanksgiving breakfasts since then. I’ve been to most of them, so I can tell you that it’s refreshing to hear people of different faiths and backgrounds talk about their stories — which often have striking similarities — just before one of the most American of holidays.

It is a simple yet effective and moving experience.

You can download “America’s Table” here.

This year’s breakfast is tomorrow morning at Manhattanville College. I’ll be the speaker. I only get 10 minutes or so — so I shouldn’t slow things down too much.

I’ll talk a bit about what I’ve learned from covering many groups of people over the years.

This year’s breakfast will also honor three organizations: the Duchesne Center for Religion and Social Justice at Manhattanville; Westchester Youth Councils; and Neighbors Link. Congratulations to them.

The AJC, the Westchester Jewish Council and Manhattanville on putting on this year’s breakfast.