Thanksgivukkah: Philadelphia gears up for epic hybrid holiday

Thanksgivukkah, the once-in-a-lifetime event when Thanksgiving and the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah happen on the same day, is coming this Thursday. And local Jews feel that the two traditions complement each other well.

“Because Hanukah’s not a major holiday for Jews, I usually don’t get family from out of town to come in, but because it’s Thanksgiving, we’ll all be together,” said Rabbi Elisa Goldberg of Jewish Family and Children’s Service.

Excitement for Thanksgivukkah is widespread. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is including its first-ever dreidel float, there’s a WordPress page for celebratory pictures, a fake trailer on Youtube, and the special Menurkey, which was designed by a 9-year-old boy from New York, for lighting traditional candles.

About 1,000 menurkeys were sold by the National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Square.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in 30 years in retail,” said Kristen Kreider, the museum’s director of retail operations. “It was an item that didn’t exist two months ago … It’s not like a Christmas ornament you can use again next year. You’re gonna have to put this baby away for 70,000 years.”

Indeed, part of the hullaballo is due to physicist Jonathan Mizrahi’s estimate that the holidays won’t coincide again for 70,000 years, while the Lansey brothers calculated it may happen again in the year 2070.

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November and is tracked by the Gregorian calendar, while the eight-day Hanukkah holiday, which is governed by the Hebrew calendar, varies in relation to other holidays, but usually starts in December.

“This is just one more once in a lifetime thing to do to make Hanukkah unique and special,” said local rabbi Robin Frisch, director of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia.

Makella Craelius, director of Spectrum Philly, an LGBTQ Jewish group, said she is planning multiple Thanksgivukkah celebrations for friends and family.

“I’m trying to convert my personal menorah into a menurkey – just by sticking a fluffy turkey head on the menorah,” she said.

Where to celebrate Thanksgivukkah:

Local restaurants offering special Thanksgivukkah menus

London Grill, 2301 Fairmount Ave. Wednesday, November 27-Thursday, December 5, (215) 978-4545

Zahav, 237 St. James Pl., Wednesday, Nov. 27, (215) 625-8800

Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse
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