Our parsha, Chayei Sarah, opens with the death of our matriarch, Sarah, and tells the story of Abraham’s commitment to keep the generations of his family connected. Abraham secures a burial place for his beloved Sarah so that her legacy will carry forward. He then sends his servant Eliezer on a mission back to Abraham’s childhood home to find a partner for his son, Isaac.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday next week, some of us will gather with family members and friends of different generations. We honor all the blessings, challenges and the stew of emotions that can bubble up this time of year. It is a powerful moment to reflect on the things we long to hold onto and carry forward from generations past as well as the things we may choose to do differently. It is a great time of year to unearth and share stories of our families, to learn from those who have come before us and to lift up the light of our ancestors.
Rabbi Doris Dyen and Dr. Reena Sigmund Friedman created a meaningful series of prompts on ritualwell titled “Appreciating our Elders,” for asking questions to spark and facilitate conversations across the generations gathered around the Thanksgiving table. We hope these prompts from will lead to juicy conversations with your loved ones.
1) What are you proudest about in your life?
2) What did you learn from difficult experiences in your life?
3) If you could talk to a former self, which one would you choose? What would you say to that former self?
4) When you were young, what was the central issue for you? What is central for you now?
5) Do you feel that God speaks to you now? If so, how? Is it different now than when you were younger?
6) What are the things you would like to finish in your life?
7) What would you like your yerushah/legacy to be? How would you like to pass that on?
8) What do you value most?
Rabbi Annie & Rabbi Yosef