Thanksgivukkah: Say shalom to a rare holiday hybrid

Photo via ctnow.com
Photo via ctnow.com

On Thursday, two holidays will collide to create a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of gratitude, community, family and tolerance — the day has been dubbed “Thanksgivukkah.”

For the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah will fall on Nov. 28, which this year is also Thanksgiving. But marking your calendar for the next super-sized holiday is pointless, as physicist Jonathan Mizrahi estimates that the next one won’t happen for roughly 70,000 years — in the year 79,811.

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November and is tracked by the Gregorian calendar, while Hanukkah, which is governed by the Hebrew calendar, varies in relation to other holidays, but tends to kick off in December.

According to Jeff Levy, director of JewishBoston.com at at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the fusing of the two holidays may not only mean double the fun, but double the stress.

“People are wondering when they should light the menorah, when to exchange gifts and what to cook. It also raises the question about what happens if one side of a family isn’t Jewish,” said Levy, who launched ThanksgivukkahBoston.com to raise awareness about the unique holiday.

“We saw this as a real learning moment for us to provide the resources and information so that [Thanksgivukkah] was accessible for everyone who is thinking to themselves, ‘What do I do?’” said Levy.

Last week, Mayor Thomas Menino officially declared Nov. 28. Thanksgivukkah in the city of Boston.

The proclamation came after JewishBoston.com interviewed residents, along with Menino, about the unique holiday.

“What (Thanksgivukkah) says to me is that we’re a strong community, we understand there is diversity and respect each others religion and customs. and that to me is just so important,” Menino told the website.

CJP President Barry Shrage pointed to the similarities between the two holidays.

“The reason these are actually in many ways the same holiday is that what they’re really both about is resistance to religious oppression. The pilgrims left England because they felt that (King) James was an oppressor… and that’s the same story as the story of Hanukkah,” he said.

Jamie Stolper, co-creator and president of ShalomBoston.com, believes that the excitement surrounding the holiday shows the integration of Jewish and American cultures.

“It’s a sign that Jews have really found a home in America, that they are comfortable here and can observe and enjoy both Jewish and American customs and rituals. I hear my non-Jewish friends talking about Thanksgivukkah all the time. It’s sort of amazing,” said Stolper, whose website also offers tips on how the holidays can coexist.

“I think the message of both holidays is similar: gratitude. Gratitude for what Americans and Jews have overcome in their histories, and that is tyranny against freedom.”

Boston-area chefs/restaurant owners Marjorie Druker (The Modern Rotisserie and New England Soup Factory) and Michael Leviton (Lumiere, Area Four and A4 Pizza) have developed Thanksgivukkah recipes based on their experience in Jewish cuisine and comfort food.

“Thanksgivukkah is a funny pop culture moment for us so I think you can’t help but have fun with the idea, but I hope the overarching idea of thankfulness will be a common theme at everyone’s holiday table on Thursday,” said Leviton.

His recipe for Thanksgiving Stuffing Tots is as follows:

For stuffing:
2 lbs red onion- diced small
3 lbs wild mushrooms- cleaned
3 oz. butter
4 c. mushroom stock or chicken stock
6 c. challah bread- torn into small pieces and toasted
2 eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. gremolata

For gremolata:
1 oz Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/3 oz. garlic, finely chopped
1/3 oz. lemon zest, grated on a microplane

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Toss the mushrooms with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 500 degrees for 8 minutes, until golden brown. Lower the oven to 350 degrees. Sweat the red onion in the butter until very tender. Pulse the cooled mushrooms in the food processor until coarse. Add the mushrooms to the sweated onions. Beat the eggs together with the cream and stock. Turn off the heat to the mushroom & onion mixture. Fold in the egg mixture, bread and gremolata. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes. After baking, roll into one inch thick logs, place in plastic wrap and quickly freeze (to make them stiff enough to cut). Dredge the logs in flour, egg wash, then panko bread crumbs and fry at 375 degrees for about two minutes.

Thanksgiving stuffers. Photo via Michael Leviton
Thanksgiving stuffers. Photo via Michael Leviton

“Thanksgiving is about gratitude for all that we have in our lives, and Hanukkah is about the miracle of lights and how it sustained us. By taking cues from these holidays, I combined elements from both and created dishes we can all identify with. My Thanksgivukkah soup recipe is a playful version of matzo ball soup and Thanksgiving turkey on a playdate,” said Druker.

Her recipe for Turkey and Root Vegetable Soup with Sage Scented Matzo Balls is as follows:

Ingredients for matzoh balls:
7 eggs (separated)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken fat
2 cups matzo meal
3 tablespoons club soda or seltzer water
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Procedure
Fill an 8-quart pot three quarters of the way with salted water and bring to a boil.

Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks, salt, chicken fat, matzo meal, club soda, onion powder and herbs. Gently fold in the egg whites. Place this mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Using your hands, roll the mixture into walnut size pieces and drop into boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 35 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon.

Makes 12-15 matzo balls.

 

Ingredients for Turkey and Root Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
4 carrots peeled and sliced
2 parsnips peeled and sliced
2 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
1 pound diced and peeled butternut squash
4 quarts poultry stock
3 cups diced cooked, roasted turkey
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Procedure
In a large heavy lined stock pot add the olive oil and place on medium high heat.

Add all of the vegetables and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add the poultry stock and bring to a boil.

Once you have reached a boil turn down slightly and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the turkey meat, fresh herbs and seasoning and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Add the matzo balls and ladle into soup bowls and serve.

Makes 12-14 servings

Turkey Matzo Ball Soup. Photo by Daniel Rastes.
Turkey Matzo Ball Soup. Photo by Daniel Rastes.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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