Celebrating Thanksgivukkah? It's more than menurkey
For the first time in a trillion years, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will coincide this week. That means on Thursday, when -- OK, maybe not quite that long. Though it's only happened a handful of times since President Lincoln declared the first Than...
For the first time in a trillion years, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will coincide this week. That means on Thursday, when --
OK, maybe not quite that long. Though it's only happened a handful of times since President Lincoln declared the first Thanksgiving in 1863. And one estimate says it'll be 77,000 years before the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving again.
Whether that's worth waiting for or not, it's
infrequent enough that those who celebrate both haven't had much experience with it.
"We're going to try to do some fun combinations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, like a not-too-destructive sweet potato latke recipe," Duluth's Dori Streit said of a turkey day ingredient added to Hanukkah's potato pancake staple.
"By not-too-destructive I mean not setting off the smoke alarm," she clarified.
Streit, her husband, Ben, and toddler Ari are headed to her father-in-law's house for a gathering of 30 relatives, half of them Jewish and half not. Some are coming from Israel with little concept of an American Thanksgiving.
"The Israeli kids will want sufganiyot," Streit said of a round jelly doughnut that's a Hanukkah favorite in Israel but less so in the U.S.
"We want to celebrate Hanukkah, but we don't want to exclude the non-Jewish kids," she continued, accepting that she'll have to serve as a cultural ambassador to a likely confused crowd.
Part of that means giving the oft-repeated disclaimer that Hanukkah is not a major religious holiday, and is only perceived so in the U.S. because of its proximity to Christmas -- usually.
Still, its symbolism resonates with many, and Hanukkah may have more in common with Thanksgiving than Christmas as a celebration of thankfulness, in a broad interpretation. It marks a victory of the Jews over ancient foes, and the discovery of a small vial of oil for the eternal light of the destroyed temple, said to have lasted for eight days. In what's also known as the Festival of Lights, a candle is lit for each day in a branched candelabra called a menorah.
Or this year, a ... menurkey?
"I have two menurkeys," said Kathy Levine of Duluth, who first saw the turkey menorah idea on the Facebook page of an innovative 9-year-old trying to mass produce them.
"He was charging 50 bucks. That was too much," Levine said.
Husband Mike Olson noticed her interest and plotted for her approaching birthday Oct. 14.
"He bought this big turkey," Levine said of a plastic bird. "He and his daughter Melissa glued bullet casings to the back and put candles in it. It's perfect."
So much so, they made two -- the second a smaller ceramic one -- and threw in an iPhone as insurance in case she wanted a real present.
Though both menurkeys will grace their table, Levine said the holidays haven't melded together as neatly.
"It's stressing me out a lot because we're having Thanksgiving as Thanksgiving but then on Saturday my entire family is coming here, and we're having Hanukkah," Levine said, explaining her family members usually get together on Hanukkah but have somewhere else to go on Thanksgiving.
With eight days of Hanukkah, the family could keep the tradition -- though this year, Duluth's Temple Israel is breaking one and won't hold its Hanukkah party until after the holiday.
"They thought no one would come the day after Thanksgiving," said congregant Levine.
The opposite is happening in Grand Forks, said Victor Lieberman of B'nai Israel synagogue.
"We usually have a Hanukkah party. (Because of Thanksgiving) we moved it, so we'll actually have it on Hanukkah," he said.
There's just one new rule: Kosher for Thanksgiving, which Lieberman says adds an extra challenge to abiding by the requirement to keep meat- and milk-based meals separate.
"I sent an email saying no matter how you slice it, turkey leftovers are not dairy. So please don't bring them to the Hanukkah party."
Robin Washington is editor of the News Tribune. He may be reached at email@example.com .