Its 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. Theyre both about gratitude. Theyre both about celebrations of freedom and liberty. Theyre 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 days 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?
Theres 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 Centers 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, its not going to happen again. Its a novelty, and that makes it interesting, I think, he said Monday.
Hes 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.
Its not uncommon for Jewish families to share a meal during Hanukkah, Lifshitz said, although theres 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, doesnt have any special group activities planned.
This Fridays 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 hasnt 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.
Im going to make sweet potato latkes, in addition to regular potato latkes, he said. Its traditional to top with apple sauce. Im going to use cranberry sauce.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413