December 3, 2013

Thanksgivukkah—Thanksgiving & Hanukkah Merge

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONSMovicons2-hugsandkisses(3)

Hug to Janet




the first day of HANUKKAH

It happened once in the past, but not during the lifetime of any living person.

And no person living November 28, 2013, will experience this rare event a second time.

In simple terms, Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and the first day of Hanukkah occurred simultaneously this year—November 28th.

In a January 14, 2013 blogpost Jonathan Mizrahl, a Jewish American physicist, pondered and mathematically calculated how often this convergence occurs:

Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28. 11/28 is also the earliest Hanukkah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7 = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before… (Thanksgiving) originally it was the LAST Thursday in November.  This changed in 1942. If you use the last Thursday rather than the fourth Thursday, then the overlap has happened once before, in 1888.

And it won’t happen again until year 79811.

Thus, if there are three generations in each century then our descendents 234 generations from now will be the next generation to experience the convergence of the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on November 28. (This estimated calculation is for the genealogists out there.)

Note that because Hanukkah is an 8-day celebration Thanksgiving can occur on other days of the celebration. For example, when the first day of Hanukkah falls the day after Thanksgiving, the first night’s candles are lit the night OF Thanksgiving (the Jewish day starts at night…).  This will happen two more times, in 2070 and 2165.

There are commonalities in the two holidays.

  • Thanksgiving is “a narrative about an arduous journey to escape religious persecution for freedom in a new land, the establishment of a democratic charter and the sense of Divine providence that carried those refugees through their plight.”…“That’s Chanukah, as well,” Freeman continued. “A narrative deeply embedded in the collective Jewish psyche of how we fought back against religious oppression in our own land, earned our freedom and thanked G‑d for the miracles.”…The miracle of Hanukkah is set in the 2nd century B.C., when a small band of Jews, the Maccabees, triumphed over the forces of King Antiochus IV…As the Maccabees rededicated the desecrated Temple in Jerusalem, a small quantity of oil, enough to last for only one day, miraculously burned for eight, which is why Jews light the candles on the menorah for eight nights. (Rabbi Tzvi Freeman recently wrote on the website
  • Thanksgiving emphasizes thankfulness. Judaism requires believers to give “tzedakeh,” Hebrew for charity,
  • Some are writing short narratives about the history of American Jews to be read at the Thanksgiving table as a complement to the secular holiday’s place in U.S. history…“This is happening once in a lifetime — the idea of Thanksgiving and being thankful for this country and what it’s allowed American Jews to become.

On Thanksgiving, in honor of Janet Applefield and in memory of the late Bob Mendler, the only child survivors of Nowy Tag, Poland, I prepared sweet potato/potato latkes and served them with a choice of sour cream or applesauce.

The convergence of these two important events—one all American and one Jewish origin—have elicited creativity.

  • A 9-year-old entrepreneur, Asher Weintraub, invented a menurky—a turkey shaped menorah (Hanukkah candelabra)— and sold more than 1500 .
  • Cooks created latkes using pumpkin and topped latkes with cranberry sauce



Robert and Janet: Nowy Targ Holocaust Survivors



  1. Mary Anne and I actually had a Chanukkah gig  (you forgot the “C”) – it might be our only Christmas gig.   Well any way it might interest you to know that some orthodox jews will not shake hands with a women. 


    Comment by Fred Wells — December 3, 2013 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

    • Hanukkah is an alternate spelling…
      Just sending your house a package—Monte is at the post office right now mailing it. Watch for it.

      Comment by carolyncholland — December 3, 2013 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

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