What? You haven’t heard? It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon! For the second time in our recent collective Jewish memory (which, by the way, runs very deep), Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving! The last time the two holidays coincided was in 1888! The coinage of Thanksgivukkah is credited to a Boston-area resident and interest has now risen to a level of what the Boston Globe has called a “frenzy!”
And apparently, everyone has something to say! Stephen Colbert recently brilliantly ranted about “Thanksgiving under attack,” and drew a double hand-shaped menorah while holding the pen with his mouth. Dana Holmes in the Huffington Post chimed in with a suggestion to brine your turkey in Manischewitz wine and stuff it with challah. She also recommends making a menorah from tiny pumpkins and tea lights. Buzzfeed contributed a recipe for the Manischewitz-brined turkey, coupled with the idea of embellishing a kippah with a Pilgrim-style belt buckle. A New York City 9-year-old designed a turkey-shaped menorah called a Menurkey, funding his idea through Kickstarter. Los Angeles is hosting a Thanksgivukkah celebration, complete with Food Trucks that are gearing up with specially-tailored food items. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, at the suggestion of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, intends to officially proclaim this November 28th “Thanksgivukkah.” And Moderntribe.com is offering a variety of Thansgivukkah items: including, a turkey themed Menorah (the Menurkey, of course), an Amerikkah Gothic Thanksgivukkah poster, and t-shirts with the slogan “8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes.” And so as not to let any stone remain unturned, there is a wikipedia page devoted to the topic (describing it as “pop-culture portmanteau neologism”), assertions that it is the greatest American Jewish “mash-up ever,” and an opportunity to wax poetic by purchasing a poem by Tucker Lieberman available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com.
Here in Manhattan, Kutcher’s, a modern Jewish-style bistro in Tribeca, will be preparing a 3- course Thanksgivukkah feast featuring sweet potato latkes topped with melted marshmallows, sufganiyot (a traditional Hanukkah donut) filled with Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, and, a Latin-inspired chocolate mole sauce made from Hanukkah gelt for the turkey!!
So, what’s my take on all of this? Thanksgiving historically has marked the beginning of the Christmas season, when American Jews felt marginalized from the national celebration of an inherently Christian-derived holiday. Today, American Jews have found their way to celebrating the season in uniquely Jewish ways. The coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving provides a unique springboard for the season! The fact that there are metropolitan celebrations and widespread media-coverage demonstrates that the American population, as whole, has been sensitized to, and is aware of, the religious celebrations of its minority members!
So place those latkes side-by-side with the turkey, raise a toast in thanksgiving with a glass of Manischewitz, and sing “Rock of Ages” while thinking of the Pilgrams landing on Plymouth Rock!!!
L’Chaim and Gobble Tov!!!