A Jewish Comedian’s Guide to Zoom Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is for Jews as much as anyone: a holiday that involves food, drinking wine, and commenting on how unsafe football is.

“Zoom Thanksgiving” is like Fruit Punch Oreos: We didn’t ask for it, yet here we are.

With COVID-19 spreading like a quote tweet that just says “THIS,” it looks like many of us will have to wait another year to get visibly sick in front of one another from overeating. And there’s no point sugarcoating it, it sucks.

Coming on the tail end of what can only be described as an “um wtf” kind of year, we all could use — and deserve — an excuse to get together with our friends and family. We deserve the opportunity to comment on our cousin’s new bald look. We deserve to meet our other cousin’s significant other who looks totally uncomfortable. We deserve to go to the neighborhood bar and get drunk while making awkward small talk with people we hated in high school. Why? Because that’s the American thing to do.

Still, the unfortunate reality is that today’s holiday gatherings will require us to get a bit more creative. But just because we’re not physically heading to our weird aunt’s house to eat copious amounts of pie doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate.

We Jews have been through a lot, including Zoom seders, Zoom High Holiday services, and like a bunch of genocides throughout history. There’s no reason we can’t get through a Zoom Thanksgiving, too. So, I’ve compiled some helpful tips and recommendations for how you and your family can celebrate safely from afar. After all, Thanksgiving is for Jews as much as anyone (a holiday that involves food, drinking wine, and commenting on how unsafe football is).

TL;DR: Here’s how to do Zoom Thanksgiving, but make it fun.

A Jewish Comedian’s Guide to Zoom Thanksgiving

Table of Contents

Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Food

Part 3: Drinks

Part 4: Conversation

Part 5: Entertainment

Part: 6: Pros / Cons 

Part 1: Preparation

Holidays are as much about preparation as they are about the day-of celebration. They’re kind of like weddings: You have to think about who you’re inviting, where everyone is sitting, and how you can keep people away from your racist uncle. A Zoom holiday is no different. Here’s what you’ll need to think about:

  • Technical details: Have you downloaded the latest version of Zoom? Have you tested your mic and camera? Do you have a laptop or did you throw it into a nearby lake due to election anxiety?
  • Mental prep: It’s important to manage your expectations. Acknowledge that this Thanksgiving will be different from those in the past. Embrace it. Make the best of it. “Why is tonight different from all other nights?” Because COVID.
  • Surrounding environment: As is the norm these days, you’ll want to make sure your surrounding area is tidy, well-lit, and family-friendly. Tonight is not the night Grandma needs to learn what a menorah bong is. Draw as little attention to yourself as possible. Essentially, be invisible. Better yet, dress to match your wallpaper so you blend in.

Part 2: Food

Without food, Thanksgiving is basically just Yom Kippur (i.e. you’re tired and you’re thinking about your past mistakes). We may not have the typical spread we’re accustomed to this year, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I say take advantage of the opportunity to break away from tradition. Here are a few ideas:

  • Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving: Yup, you heard me. Get a grocery cart and act like you just won a Toys “R” Us shopping spree (RIP). Grab all the frozen dinners. Appetizers, too. Get the Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Buy orange chicken. Buy that queso dip that you really like. Eat dessert first. Go crazy. I almost already don’t even miss real Thanksgiving.
  • Breakfast for dinner: Stop asking “why” and start asking “why not.” Like Kevin Garnett taught us, anything is possible. If I’m ever president, my first executive order will be “Thanksgiving dinner now consists of breakfast items.” Pie technically counts because it’s pastry-adjacent.
  • Hamantaschen: Fuck it, eat hamantaschen for dinner. Who cares anymore? You’re in your apartment alone, you’re drunk, you’re on Zoom, your dad is telling a story about God knows what. Might as well go full 2020.

Part 3: Drinks

Whether you prefer alcoholic drinks or non-alcoholic drinks, having something out of the ordinary can be a festive way to get in the holiday spirit. Might I suggest a few cocktail recipes:

  • Manischevrolet: Have a glass of Manischewitz while sitting in your car crying.
  • Maskcow Mule: Drink a Moscow Mule while explaining to your family the importance of wearing a mask per CDC
  • Whiskey: Self-explanatory.

Part 4: Conversation

I love Thanksgiving banter. You have the shy sibling, the eccentric cousin, your grandpa’s new wife, that random guy who you recognize but have never asked their name. It’s like the Justice League if the Justice League were Jewish and only hung out once a year to eat turkey. Not to mention every year it seems like there’s less of an elephant in the room and more of an entire zoo. I will say I am bummed that this would have been the first Thanksgiving where someone got drunk and said they wanted to make out with Steve Kornacki. It may be harder to get the full experience through Zoom, but here are a few tips to keep the conversation flowing:

  • Prepare a list of conversation topics: Would you join the Space Force? What’s your stance on pudding? Seth Rogen (discuss). Who’s your least favorite person in the family?
  • Utilize the chat function: Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled AKA start a private chat with your cousins to gently make fun of other people.
  • Read your Torah portion: Remember you can always do this to fill any awkward silences. Good life tip in general.
  • Do a 60 Minutes style interview with grandma where everyone just has to sit and listen.

Part 5: Entertainment  

Dinner might be over, but the night is just getting started. While normally you’d huddle around the TV to watch a football game in complete silence, this year is different. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to entertain one another virtually:

  • Everyone watch The Queen’s Gambit at the same time. Every episode. Stay up all night.
  • Do your own version of The Masked Singer! Some costume ideas: Moses, giant sufganiyot, rabbi who is also in a death metal band, Eugene Levy.
  • Reenact all of Oh, Hello starring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll.
  • Create a fun drinking game like “Drink every time someone mentions voter fraud.”
  • Pick a location and require everyone to make a Zoom background accordingly: Thanksgiving Palm Springs, Thanksgiving in Space, Thanksgiving in Disney’s Haunted Mansion, Thanksgiving at your summer camp.

Zoom Thanksgiving Pros / Cons


  • You don’t have to wear a mask
  • Let’s face it, your mom makes that weird kugel dish and you end up eating it because you feel bad but truthfully you could do without it
  • Less opportunity for people to ask if you’ve met someone or if you’ve tried JDate
  • You can mute your relative who may or may not have voted for Trump
  • You don’t have to drive home
  • You can always leave and blame the WiFi
  • You won’t run into your high school ex at Target during the week


  • You won’t run into your high school ex at Target during the week
  • You don’t get to drink with your fun cousins who you only see twice a year
  • Would have been a great year for a Thanksgiving + Hanukkah party (Thanksgivukkah)
  • You’re not going to carve a turkey yourself
  • You had a good Thanksgiving outfit planned
  • It’s mostly the outfit thing, huh?


In an unpredictable year, the ability to adapt and move forward is all we have. We’re working through this new way of life together. We’re all a bit lonely. We’re missing our friends. We’re missing our family. We’re constantly looking for ways to maintain some sense of normalcy. As we learn more about COVID-19 and await a vaccine, keeping each other safe is what matters most.

Zoom Thanksgiving might not be our first choice, but it’s the Jewish thing to do. We’ll make the best of a tough situation as we always have, and we’ll take solace knowing that everything we’re experiencing, we’re not experiencing alone. So let’s take a deep breath, practice gratitude, try to laugh when we can, and enjoy Thanksgiving with a mute button.

Also, for the love of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, please wear your mask.

Jon Savitt

Jon Savitt is a writer and comedian with work featured in outlets including Funny or Die, College Humor, Washington Post, TIME, and more. He’s also a past contributor to the comedy web series “Good Mythical Morning.” Find him on Twitter @savittj.

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