A Few Last Words (I Promise) About Thanksgivukkah

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In my book, A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to Be Jewish, I devote a chapter to what, in modern parlance, might be termed “blended holidays.” Immediately what comes to mind is Chrismukkah, which was created by American businesses and organizations to cater to interfaith families. I will be discussing this hybrid holiday later in the season but the term can also be applied, although certainly with less surrounding controversy, to the once-in-a-lifetime media blitz that is Thanksgivukkah. The array of articles to read, items to be purchased, and events to attend is dizzying. With a hat (tri-cornered or buckle-festooned) tipped to next Thursday, here are the last mentions that I will make of this unique event!

Major League Dreidel is hosting its annual spinning contest, retitled this year, Thanks-Spinning, on Monday, November 25th at Full Circle Bar, 318 Grand Street (between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue) in Williamsburg at 8:00 pm. (For more information, call: 347 725 4588)

In “How About Latkes With Cranberry Sauce?” Rabbi Gerald L. Zelizer engages in an erudite discussion of the linkage between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Sukkot. [see “Forward Forum,” The Forward, November 15, 2013, page 13]

Rumor has it that Macy’s has added a giant dreidel to its Thanksgiving Parade line-up!

An alternative t-shirt can be purchased bearing the image of Judah Maccabee. For more information, contact batyama@gmail.com.

thanksgivukkah t-shirt_

And, our dear friend and cooking impresario Jennifer Abadi, speculates, in her blog “What if in another century or more Passover somehow crossed over with Thanksgiving AND Chanukah? How would we cope with this holy trinity, and more importantly, what would we serve?  She then offers “the perfect recipe that embodies a little bit for each holiday: A sweet & spicy sweet potato latke with cumin, curry, and cayenne, that is served with cranberry sauce and/or apple butter! Yes, here is how it works for all you skeptics out there: sweet potato cumin-curry-cayenne latkes with cranberry relish.” [see: http://toogoodtopassover.com/2013/11/25/what-about-passgivukkuh/]

Much speculation has been given to why Thanksgivukkah has been so widely embraced. Allison Kaplan Sommer offers that Chrismukkah carries a “whiff of stigma and guilt of assimilation.” Thanksgiving is a cherished American holiday lacking in religious undertone and is food-centric.  The blending of the two holidays is therefore without controversy. [See: Allison Kaplan Sommer, “Hanukkah occupies Thanksgiving: Colbert hates it, Jews love it: Why is this artifact of dates so hyped? Because unlike Christmukkah, there is no whiff of assimilation guilt.”Haaretz, October 13, 2013]

Lastly, the moniker “Givukkah” has been bandied about. This could certainly apply any day of the year when gifts are proffered and would not be restricted to the confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

That said, it is with gratitude that the confluence of the two holidays will soon be behind us!

It’s Hanukkah time! Where’s the party?

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A Kosher Christmas Blog Photo ESBLast night marked the first night of Hanukkah! Menorah lightings will abound in homes and in public places. I presided over the menorah lighting at 35th and Park at 5:00. We were crammed onto the median with cars whizzing by! Exciting but a bit on the dangerous side!

Just overhead was the ethereal spire of the Empire State Building glowingly lit in blue and white and wrapped in mist! As with everything of import, there is a story surrounding the Hanukkah lighting of the Empire State Building! In 1997, nine-year old Mallory Blair Greitzer and her father wrote repeated letters to the management of the Empire State Building in Manhattan requesting that the color of the building’s tower lights be changed in honor of Hannukah. This request was steadfastly rejected on the basis that the management’s policy limited the lights to honor each religion on one day per year. (The landmark’s lights are blue and white for Israel Independence Day.) Mallory’s father then wrote to Leona Helmsley, the management company’s owner. Against the advice of her staff, Helmsley granted Mallory’s request. In celebration of Chanukah in 1997, the Empire State Building was (and each year thereafter has been) set alight with the colors blue and white. Grass roots campaigning at its best!

In homes and apartments everywhere, the wafting smell of latkes cooking in oil will flood kitchens and hallways and sufganyot will be plentiful! If you are looking for new and exciting events for Hanukkah, check out the following:

Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel will perform a Hanukkah concert at the Metropolitan Synagogue at 7:00 pm tonight (40 East 35th Street, www.metropolitansynagogue.org)! For those not in the know, “Kosher gospel” is the union of Jewish religious lyrics and meanings with the soulful sounds of American gospel music. Not to be missed!!!!!!!! You’ll be dancing in the aisles!!!!!!!!

What else is there to do? Check out Major League Dreidel/Target Tops Tournament on December 13th at 8:00 pm! (This one I have written about in my book, “A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to be Jewish.”) Created in 2007, Major League Dreidel has been described as an “amped-up Hanukkah party and battle royale.” Players compete for the longest dreidel spin. This year hosts the first doubles tournament. So register at info@majorleaguedreidel.com by Wednesday, December 12th. Proceeds of the event will benefit Playworks, a nonprofit whose mission is to end playground bullying. Even if you don’t register, take a look at the website and then head to Full Circle Bar, 318 Grand Street (between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue), Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347 725 4588).
Matisyahu Festival of Light. Matisyahu, formerly Hasidic but always remaining a reggae star, performs his annual Hanukkah concert on December 15 at 9:00 pm. Spark Seeker Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street (11th Avenue).

We also want to give a shout out to Jewmongous is Sean Altman! Fabulously funny, Jewmongous is irreverently comedy song concert taking place on December 15th at 8:30, Towne Crier, 130 Route 22, Pawling, New York. NOTE: This should not be mistaken for the Jewmongous show at City Winery on December 25th (more to follow on that one!) www.jewmongous.com

Menorah Horah! A Hanukkah burlesque show tonight, Sunday December 9th at 8:00 pm at the Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th Street (8th/9th).

Don’t dismiss Santacon! There are always a few Hanukkah Harry(s) and Mrs. Hanukkah Harry(s) amongst the thousands of Santas that throng and cavort around New York City. According to the website (http.//santacon), the New York happening is on December 15th with information to be revealed the night before.

A Chanukah Charol. Comedian Jackie Hoffman reenacts her one-woman retelling of Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ using a semiautobiographical and very Jewish lens. December 8th-December 29th at 8:00 pm, New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street (8th/9th).

Fourth Annual Latke Festival. Chefs from 16 local restaurants—including A Voce, Balaboosta and Veselka—compete for first place latke on Monday December 10, 6:30 pm at BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue (Ashland Place/ St. Felix Street). Taste and judge for yourself! Profits from ticket sales will be donated to the Sylvia Center for childhood nutrition.

Gail Simmons: Latke Sizzle. Chef Gail Simmons talks with James Beard Foundation executive vice president Mitchell Davis about Latkes and other types of Jewish food to be followed by a latke tasting and vodka pairing. 8:15 pm, December 11, 92nd Street Y 1395 Lexington Ave (91st and 92nd).

The Big Quiz Thing’s Christmahanukwanzayear Spectacular. Noah Tarnow is host at this holiday-themed multimedia quiz show, 7:00 pm, Tuesday, December 11 – Wednesday December 12, Littlefield 622 DeGraw Street (Third and Fourth Avenues)

Delancey to Doughnuts: A Lower East Side Chanukah 2.5 hours Walking Tour at 10:45 this morning! see nycjewishtours.org