The Big Felafel

Thanksgiving in Israel! It can be done!

Thanksgiving in Israel?It’s almost turkey time. I love Thanksgiving. And what’s not to love, dinner at 3pm, turkey that isn’t sliced lunch meat, stuffing right from the turkey’s butt, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Lots of pumpkin pie.

This used to be my reality every November for as long as I can remember. But for the last 3 years I have been living in Israel and those Thanksgiving days have turned into memories of my past. Oh, stop being so dramatic, the truth is you (as in me and all other American immigrants) can still have Thanksgiving in Israel.

I know it isn’t the same as sitting around the table in America, staring down at your food baby (this is a term Shira taught me which refers to the ridiculous amount of food you just ate that now makes you appear five months pregnant) and going around the table saying what we are thankful for (I am always thankful there is a toilet near by)—but friends, we are not alone and Thanksgiving can still be the best holiday ever! The gravy bowl is half full!

Here are tips on how to prepare your own Thanksgiving meal. And below these tips are places that will be having Thanksgiving meals in Israel if you are too lazy to make your own. Finally at the way, way bottom are tips to be super lazy but still do something for Thanksgiving. And if there are suggestions for any of these categories, please let me know so I can add them to the lists.

1.Prepare your meal:

stuff that turkey

Turkey: You’ll find a real Turkey and pumpkin at the Shuk/Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.

Cranberry Sauce: Go to Super Moshava on Emek Refaim in the German Colony or Rami Levy supermarket in Talpiot for cranberry sauce in a can. P.S. It’s ShopRite brand for 13.99 NIS. Yes, ShopRite brand in an Israeli supermarket.

Gravy: Click here for a super fast recipe for gravy (vegetarian too).

Stuffing Here’s Rebecca’s recipe for stuffing. (Disclaimer: First time she’s ever written a recipe, so don’t be mad if it comes out funny)


2 loaves, hard crusty bread

Boiling water

2 onions


2 eggs



  1. Buy hard crusty bred (French/Italian) and rip into pieces and put into a bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water over the ripped bread (enough to cover the bread)
  3. Saute 2 chopped onions and bunch of celery and add to bowl
  4. Add 2 eggs to bowl
  5. Mush everything with your hands or spoons
  6. Put mixture into a pan
  7. Put pieces of turkey on top of the stuffing and bake for 1hr at 350 degrees.

Decorations: To decorate your house with a Thanksgiving motif use printer paper, trace your hand and make a turkey drawing from it (it worked in elementary school). Then place these drawing on your walls, around the table, etc.

Discussions: Talk about football games instead of watching them. Go around the table and say why you are thankful, lie if you have to.

Clothing: Wear loose pants or pants that are easy to unbutton for your food baby.

2. Too lazy? Go to someone else’s Turkey feast

Merkaz Hamagshimim, Jerusalem: Thursday, November 27th 7pm
If you are an American or former American living in Israel, if you are friends with Americans, if you are Israeli or any other nationality and want to have a potluck family meal celebrating the most fun American holiday, join us at The Merkaz for Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, November 27th, at 7pm.This meal is potluck and to make sure there is enough food for everyone and that everything is completely kosher, please RSVP to Ashleigh by Tuesday, the 25th of November.The Merkaz will then confirm with you what dish you will bring or what food you will buy. The suggested amount to spend is 30-40 shekels a person. And since not everyone has a kosher home, if you are more comfortable just contributing to the cost of the turkey, that is fine too!!!!

Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tel Aviv: Thanksgiving Dinner with a Middle Eastern Twist Thursday, Nov. 27th, 7:30pm
Celebrate and give thanks at a Western style Thanksgiving dinner.  Sit down with friends, old and new, for a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, drinks (including wine) and more!

In addition to the meal, everyone is encouraged to bring an article of clothing or canned food that will be given to charity.

When: Thursday, November 27, 2008 at  7:30 pm

Where: Bazel Hotel – Hayarkon 156 (between Gordon & Ben Gurion)

Friends and guests of NBN Olim are welcome to join.

Registration required: Special discounted price of 75 NIS per person if you register before November 20th. If you register after Nov. 20th the price is 100 NIS. Spaces are limited- The event was sold out last year! This event is part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s ongoing social programming for young couples and singles in their 20’s and 30’s.

3. For the super lazy who still want to celebrate Thanksgiving

  • You can order a lot of pizza and hang out with friends, try to find someone who has cable and watch football games.
  • Go to a bar and watch the game with friends. Get drunk and ask everyone what they are thankful for (mine would still be that there is a toilet near by).
  • Do a Thanksgiving/Shabbat meal—this would be killing two birds with one stone (that’s funny because we are talking about turkey!). Get your friends and family for Shabbat and have a Thanksgiving theme. Instead of chicken have turkey; instead of chocolate cake have pumpkin pie. You get it! Ask friends to make their own dishes too. And you can still go around the table and say what you are thankful for!

Thanksgiving is just as yummy and real and thankful as ever in Israel! I hope you remember to thank The Big Felafel at your meal (don’t be shady)!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Eli says:

    I understand you can get a turkey from the supermarket, if you ask a few days in advance (they are aware of the Thanksgiving concept). It’ll be hard to get hold of a turducken, though. I think you have to build it by hand.

    As for the hand-turkeys:

    | Reply Posted 14 years, 7 months ago
  2. * Molly says:

    Thanks for the update! I went to the e-handturkey site, but what is it for?

    | Reply Posted 14 years, 7 months ago
  3. * rachky says:

    I’ve done Thanksgiving at our house a few times over the years with American friends (and their Israeli spouses), and we usually come pretty close to authentic. The Israelis never get it, but they always enjoy a good meal (that is, if they’re willing to eat turkey and sweet side dishes…but that’s a whole ‘nother issue). Funny how I learned to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving only after I moved to Israel.

    You can order a whole turkey a few days in advance from most any major supermarket, make fresh pumpkin pie, real stuffing (not the kind that comes from a box that I grew up with) etc. The cranberry sauce is tricky to find – as are the mini marshmallows to top the sweet potatoes, but I hear there’s also a good “American” store in Raanana where you can get the goods.

    And remember, don’t let the turkeys get you down:-)

    | Reply Posted 14 years, 7 months ago

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