Do you know who was the first Jewish person to come to the United States and why he came? Is there a controversy about Jewish people celebrating Thanksgiving? And if you want to be prepared for Hanukkah, better hurry. It’s early this year!

The first Jewish person to set sail for America did not stow away on the Mayflower with the Puritans. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth sent Sir Walter Raleigh to the Virginia territory to look for gold, silver and copper. Raleigh asked Joachim Gaunse, a Jewish metallurgist and mining expert, to take part in the expedition. Thus in 1585, Joachim Gaunse became the first known Jew to set foot on what is now American soil.

Did the Jewish people invent Thanksgiving?

Columnist Joseph Farah underscores the true meaning of Thanksgiving here:

See what Jews for Jesus has to say about Thanksgiving here.

More on Jews and Thanksgiving:

"Thanksgiving, as in giving thanks, is a very Jewish thing to do. According to tradition, Jews are to give thanks 100 times each day. We are to give thanks before we eat, for having food, and after we eat, for having been able to have food. Each morning the traditional liturgy includes thank-yous for such simple acts as standing up and having the strength to get through the day. One more Jewish link is found in our scripture: The initial Thanksgiving feast was probably based upon our fall thanksgiving festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles)".

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Hanukkah begins early this year: December 4!

Check out our Jews for Jesus Hanukkah Page where you will find a brief overview of the holiday, free e-cards, articles and poetry to download, a flash animation and a virtual game of dreidel (the traditional top we spin at Hanukkah). Warning: we cannot guarantee that gift items ordered for this holiday will reach you in time for Hanukkah. Of course, if you want to do your 2008 Hanukkah shopping early, we won’t complain. Just be sure to leave notes on who gets what in case Jesus returns before then!

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