“Reason to Celebrate”: A Traditional Thanksgiving at HIAS, 1951

The HIAS annual report for 1951 includes a collage titled, “Holiday Observances at Hias Shelter”, with the subtitle “Reason to Celebrate”. HIAS’s staff, and the HIAS women’s committee, worked hard to make sure that each of the holidays, Jewish and secular, celebrated by new immigrants in America, was special.

"Immigrant children at the HIAS shelter enjoy ... the traditional holidays"
“Immigrant children at the HIAS shelter enjoy … the traditional holidays”

While the collage features mostly Jewish holidays (Roshe Hashonah [sic], Chanukah, Succoth, Passover, Simchoth Torah and Purim), it also includes Thanksgiving.

For many of the immigrant families aided by HIAS when they reached the United States, the HIAS shelter provided meals, festivities and observances in honor of each what the copy editor of the annual report referred to as “the traditional holidays” for American Jews.

The caption in the lower right corner says, “Having reached a new land of freedom, immigrant children at the HIAS shelter enjoy for the first time the celebration of the traditional holidays.”

65 years later, the HIAS archives project team extends traditional holiday greetings at Thanksgiving to all of our readers.

HIAS headquarters, Lafayette Street, New York, 1951
HIAS Annual Report, 1951
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