Hanukkah Falls on Thanksgiving for the First Time Since 19th Century



October 4, 2013

by Timothy W. Scee II
Special to Newzjunky.com


WATERTOWN, N.Y.  
Hanukkah may come every year, but it’s not very often the Festival of Lights coincides with the day upon which Americans traditionally enjoy endless plates of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

For the first time in over a century the first day of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving, which is celebrated November 28th this year.  

The last time this occurred was in 1888, 25 years after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November. 

According to Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, an author and senior editor at Chabad.org, the same circumstance would happen again in 2070 under the assumption that neither Thanksgiving nor the solar calendar will change.  In 1941, Thanksgiving was changed to the fourth Thursday in November under President Franklin D. Roosevent.

Since Jewish calendar days begin on evenings, many local families will be lighting first candle on the menorah the night before Thanksgiving.

Members of Congregation Degel Israel Synagogue, 557 Thompson Blvd., said they expect little change even though the two holidays collide.

Tracy P. Granger, Carthage, said Jewish people don’t have to worry about food restrictions during the holiday.   

“We’re not restricted what we can eat on Hanukkah,” she said.  “There are traditional things you can eat for Hanukkah so I think most Jewish homes that are celebrating will combine.”

Some, in fact, could be enjoying more to their Thanksgiving feast than usual because of the Hanukkah story related to the Maccabees’ victory over the Syrian-Greek soldiers who took over a Jewish temple. 

As legend has it, Congregation Degel Israel member Michael B. Snyder said, the Jewish people decided to purify the temple they had regained control of from the soldiers by burning oil for which they only had one day’s supply. 

Instead, Jewish tradition maintains the oil miraculously burned for eight days.

“Typically in Jewish households during Hanukkah there’s an emphasis on foods that are fried in oil because of the legend of the oil for the temple that was only supposed to burn for one night, but burned for eight nights,” Mr. Snyder said.

Sarah H. Baldwin, Clayton, is vice president of Congregation Degel Israel.  Besides possibly cooking some traditional Hanukkah foods - like potato pancakes and jelly donuts - along with the turkey, she is looking forward to having her son home from college for both holidays.

“The main difference is that my child who just started college will actually be home for Hanukkah,” she said.  “He would not come home for it on his own and it’s kind of a nice treat he will be home with his family.”

Ms. Baldwin added, Otherwise, I don’t think it’s really that much different.”

Will Hanukkah ever fall on Thanksgiving again?

“The likelihood of this happening again is very small because of the difference between the two cycles,” Mr. Snyder said.  “It’s an interesting conjunction and it really has no effect on how either holiday will be celebrated because the celebration for Hanukkah will be the same for any year.”

Official: NNYReligion.com  






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