And a happy Thanksgivukkah to you

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah won’t occur on the same day again in a long, long time.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comNovember 26, 2013 


Second-grader Rozie Aronov, 7, holds up a “menurkey,” a paper-and-paint mash-up of a menorah and turkey she created at Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Mich. The recent class project reflects one way U.S. Jews are noting the rare quirk of the calendar that overlaps Thanksgiving with the start of Hanukkah.



    Enjoy ice skating and Jewish music?

    The Chabad Jewish Center in Boise is hosting a public celebration of the Festival of Lights from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday at Idaho Ice World, 7072 Eisenman Road, Boise.

    The event will feature open skating to contemporary Jewish music and classic Hanukkah songs. Fleet Street Klezmer Band will perform.

    A 5-foot-tall ice menorah will be carved on location. Kids activities will include crafts and an olive oil press workshop (illustrating how olive oil was produced 2,000 years ago).

    Admission is $12 per person and $50 per family. Admission includes skate rental, skating, a kosher deli dinner, latkes and doughnuts. More info and RSVP online at, or call 853-9200.

It’s not going to happen again for another 78,000 years, by one account — so why not enjoy it?

For American Jews, Thursday is a special day: Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights. Some are referring to it as “Thanksgivukkah.”

“I like it because I think the two holidays share a great deal,” said Rabbi Dan Fink of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise. “They’re both about gratitude. They’re both about celebrations of freedom and liberty. They’re both home-centered holidays.”

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks more than 2,100 years ago. When the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated, they had only a day’s worth of oil to burn in the menorah — but it burned for eight days. The Festival of Lights commemorates that miracle.

Hanukkah follows the Jewish calendar, which is based primarily on lunar cycles, not solar cycles. When was the last time Thanksgiving landed on Hanukkah?

There’s some debate about that. In a widely cited blog posted earlier this year, quantum physicist Jonathan Mizrahi said the last time was 1888, and the next will be 79811.

But Rabbi Mendel Lifshitz of Chabad Jewish Center in Boise says the last time this occurred was actually Nov. 28, 1918. That year, Thanksgiving was on Hanukkah eve, he said, but because the Jewish day starts at night they actually overlapped. (Mizrahi agrees there is debate over how he did his calculation, and that by Lifshitz’ approach, Thanksgivukkah would occur again in 2070 and 2165).

The Chabad Jewish Center’s website has seen a significant uptick in traffic from people searching for Hanukkah-Thanksgiving recipes. Recipes posted include cranberry jelly doughnuts, butternut squash/sweet potato latkes and turkey egg rolls with cranberry dipping sauce.

Fink talked about the rare occurrence in his sermon Friday.

“For all practical intents and purposes, it’s not going to happen again. It’s a novelty, and that makes it interesting, I think,” he said Monday.

He’s happy that his 22-year-old daughter, who will be home from college for Thanksgiving, will get to share in a big family meal on the first day of Hanukkah.

“More people are going to be having the beginning of Hanukkah with extended families than otherwise would,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for Jewish families to share a meal during Hanukkah, Lifshitz said, although there’s no official dinner on any particular night. Lighting the home menorah is the central ritual of the holiday.

Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, with 220 member families, doesn’t have any special group activities planned.

This Friday’s service at Ahavath Beth Israel will include Hanukkah songs and a reception afterward with jelly doughnuts.

“Every year we have latkes,” Fink said. “We decided that this year, the day after Thanksgiving, that nobody was going to be real eager to eat something that heavy.”

He hasn’t bought any of the Thanksgivukkah tchotchkes — such as the turkey-shaped menorah or “menurkey” — available in stores and on the Internet. But he plans to mix the holidays on his plate Thursday.

“I’m going to make sweet potato latkes, in addition to regular potato latkes,” he said. “It’s traditional to top with apple sauce. I’m going to use cranberry sauce.”

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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