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November 25th, 2013
12:47 PM ET

Eight ways to celebrate Thanksgivukkah

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Break out the menurkeys and sweet potato latkes, people, it's time to celebrate Thanksgivukkah, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

A calendrical quirk brings the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together this Thursday for the first time since 1888. Scientists say the confluence won't occur again for another 70,000 years, give or take a millennium.

Dana Gitell, a 37-year-old marketing manager for a Jewish nonprofit in Massachusetts, is the mind behind the mashup "Thanksgivukkah."

(If you think that's a mouthful, her other ideas were "Thanksgiving-ukkah" and "Hanukkahgiving," both of which caused our spellchecker to sputter and die.)

But with the right portmanteau in place, the Thanksgivukkah idea caught fire faster than a deep-fried turkey.

Gitell is gathering an online album of Thanksgivukkah celebrations, and says she's received submissions from places like South Dakota and Anchorage, Alaska - outposts not typically known for having vibrant Jewish communities.

Even rabbis from ultra-Orthodox sects like Chabad have jumped on board the Thanksgivukkah bandwagon.

"At first I didn't know how rabbis would respond to something as irreverent as a mashup," Gittel says, "but they almost uniformly embraced it. It's completely kosher."

We don't know if the rabbis approve of everything on our list, because people are sorta going nuts. Must be that once-in-an-eon thing. But without further ado (and with a nod toward Adam Sandler's "Eight Crazy Nights"), here are eight ways to celebrate Thanksgivukkah.

1. Light a menurkey

Leave it to a fourth-grader to create the ultimate Thanksgivukkah icon.

Asher Weintraub came up with the idea during a family trip to Florida last year. The little genius from New York City thought it'd be really cool to have a menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum used to mark Hanukkah, in the shape of a turkey.

Weintraub created a Kickstarter account, raised $50,000, made a 3-D prototype and heroically fended off his father's attempt to rename the thing a "menorkey." Nice job, kiddo.

The father in question, Anthony Weintraub, says he's sold between 6,000 and 7,000 menurkeys, including a few to famous finance experts and owners of National Football League teams.

"I'm beginning to think my life as a menorah salesman isn't over," says Anthony Weintraub.

2. Make a nice Turbrisket 

Let's face it, Thanksgiving was getting pretty gonzo even before meeting Hanukkah. I mean, turducken? But Thanksgivukkah has taken meal mashups to a new level.

You've got your Turbrisket (turkey filled with brisket), your deep-fried turkey, your sweet potato latkes, your cranberry-stuffed knishes, your pumpkin kugel, your pecan pie rugelach - I could go on, but I'll get fat just by typing the rest of the list.

Marlene Eldemire of Cincinnati says her family wanted to make the huge mashup menu Buzzfeed posted earlier this month.

"I told them they can go ahead and make it," Eldemire says with a laugh. "There's no way."

So her family is settling for a few Hanukkah standbys like brisket that'll sit next to the turkey and sweet potatoes this Thursday.

3. Deck the halls for the Challahday

This is another spot where people are getting really creative, says Kali Brodsky, editor of JewishBoston.com.

They're making pumpkin menorahs, Thanksgivukkah coloring books for kids, and table settings that mix and match Hanukkah and Thanksgiving themes.

Rabbi Rachel Silverman of Boston says she's decorating her table with Thanksgiving symbols (a cornucopia, pumpkins, harvest bouquet) and Hanukkah items (a menorah, gold-colored coins called "gelt").

If you're feeling lazy, Brodsky says, you can just print out the Thanksgivukkah place cards JewishBoston has created and set a place for Bubbe.

4. Watch a really big dreidel spin down the streets of New York 

To honor the confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, Macy's has created a 25-foot-tall, 21-foot-wide dreidel for its iconic parade.

The "balloonicle" (part balloon, part vehicle) will spin just like a real dreidel, and it's the first time the parade has included a Jewish symbol, according to Macy's.

"Inclusion of the dreidel balloonicle is indicative of both a nod to the rare occasion in which Hanukkah's first day falls on Thanksgiving and of the dreidel's inherent entertainment value," says Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras.

5. Party like it's 165 BC (and 1621 CE) 

Hanukkah, for those who need a refresher course, marks the miracle of the successful defense of the Jewish temple by the Maccabees, an army of Jewish rebels, against the Goliath-like Syrian-Greek army in 165 BC.

One day's supply of oil somehow lit the temple's menorah for eight days, and the rest is history.

The Jewish event and the Pilgrims' arrival in America are both celebrations of religious freedom, says Sherry Kuiper.

At Kuiper's synagogue, Temple Israel in Columbus, Georgia, the kids led a service in which they dressed up like the Maccabees and Pilgrims, traveled in a make-believe time machine, and celebrated Thanksgivukkah together.

The parallel isn't perfect, Kuiper acknowledges. After all, the Native Americans certainly don't celebrate Thanksgiving as the birth of their religious freedom.

But Thanksgivukkah offers a reminder that the more things change, the more some things - like the human need to express gratitude - stay the same, Kuiper said.

6. Kvetch about Thanksgivukkah 

Okay, this one isn't exactly about celebrating.

But it must be acknowledged, some folks just aren't into the Thanksgivukkah spirit.

Thanksgiving was one of the few holidays on which interfaith families didn't have to explain to the kids "why mom believes this and dad believes that," argues Allison Benedikt in a recent Slate column.

"I cannot tell you what a relief it is to have this one major holiday—the best one!—that isn’t in some part about what I am and my husband is not (Jewish), or what he is and I’m not (Christmas-celebrating)," Benedikt says.

(And for just the record, sweet and sour braised brisket with cranberry sauce is an abomination, she says.)

Jennie Rivlin Roberts, whose Judaica store, Modern Tribe, is selling Thanksgivukkah gear like hotcakes, says she understands some of the kvetching.

But a mashup of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah is so much better than the usual "December dilemma," the overlap of the eight-day Jewish holiday and the cultural behemoth know as Christmas, Roberts says.

"With Thanksgivukkah, you're not really mixing two religions, so you can really go for it. People may say it's silly, and yeah, some of it is, but it's also full of fun and joy."

7. Watch a rap battle between a turkey and a dreidel

Julie Benko was stuck on the subway in New York City for two hours, and she was bored. So, she did what any sane person would do - she wrote a song about Thanksgivukkah.

OK, Benko is not your average straphanger. She's something of a Broadway belle, having just returned from playing Cosette on a national tour of "Les Miserables." But that doesn't mean it's any easier to find a rhyme for "Thanksgivukkah."

Still, Benko's klezmer-inspired tune has lots of YouTube competition.

There's the rap battle between a turkey and a dreidel sponsored by Manischewitz. (Yes, they rock it old shul.)

There's the slickly produced "Oils: A Thanksgivukkah Miracle."

And there's this cute little number from the the Kehillah Schechter Academy in Norwood, Massachusetts, called "The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah."

8. Watch a scary movie about stereotypes

After all the candle-lighting and the decorating and eating and the kvetching and the singing, let's face it, you're probably going to be pretty tired.

So why not plop down on the couch to watch the trailer for a Thanksgivukkah-themed horror movie?

"Thanksgivukkah: The Movie" is about a nice gentile family who find their Thanksgiving celebration invaded by a family of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Jokes about religious stereotypes ensue.

We don't know if the trailer, which is made by Jewish filmmakers, is completely kosher, but we guess there's enough time for the rabbis to sort it out in time for the next Thanksgivukkah.

So, that's it. We"ll see you next Thanksgivukkah, in 70,000 years or so.  In the meantime, Gobble tov, my friends.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Food • Judaism • Kosher • Traditions • Trends

soundoff (527 Responses)
  1. Doc Vestibule

    Mormonism is the only religion that reconciles the existence of indiginous Americans with Biblical theology.
    A lost tribe of Israel, cursed with the mark of Cain (aka: melanin).
    Quick! Let's all give the LDS 10% of our net worths and don some mystical long johns!

    November 26, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • lol??

      Christians are the temple of God. That's not gud enuff for the Mormons and their temples. They are pwogwessive, alright.

      November 26, 2013 at 8:12 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Ask a Mormon and they'll tell you they're Christian – they just have Part III of the Bible.
        Part I: The Smitey, Vengeful Creator
        Part II: Son of Smitey – The Lovin' Martyr
        Part III: American Jesus

        November 26, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • midwest rail

      " Christians are the temple of God. "
      And yet so few of them act like it...

      November 26, 2013 at 8:16 am |
      • lol??

        Watch out A&A's. Ya might be beating up on baby Christians. They already get enough abuse in the churches.

        November 26, 2013 at 8:20 am |
        • midwest rail

          Exhibit "A".

          November 26, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  2. hearties

    You are thinking about lamps from centuries ago, and ignoring the hand of God that did it. God is not just one miracle, or an event from centuries ago. You can love Jesus, you can love him now, it's OK, he's wonderful and did what God sent him to do. Miracles are not what it's about, it's about loving God and him loving you, his forgiving sins through Jesus's sacrifice. Jesus showed you that, that's what's newsworthy, but you care about a turkey instead.

    November 26, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Sure...turkey is real. You imaginary myth doesn't compare.

      November 26, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • Ben

      Hey, we've all had fantasies about having some rich relative who adores us enough to hand over their fortunes to us some day, but the reality is that this really only happens in fairy tales and sappy holiday movies. Grow up, grab ahold of the life that you do have, and make the best of it because Scrooge McDuck isn't actually your uncle. 🙂

      November 26, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "I love you, Jesus. I want you to walk with me
      I'll take good care of you baby. Call you my baby, baby!
      You died for my sins, and you know that I would die for you, right?
      What's the matter, baby? You tremble at Jesus, baby!
      Your love... is my life! You know when I’m without you, there's a black hole in my life! Oo-ohhh!
      I wanna believe. It's all right, 'cause I get lonely in the night and it's up to you to
      Save me! Jee...sus...bay-by!"

      – Faith+1

      November 26, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  3. children of Israel

    Christians are in their kingdom now with the wicked celebrating mankind tradition. (St. Matthew 15:3) *Job 9:24*

    November 26, 2013 at 5:36 am |
  4. hearties

    One miracle of lamps, some witnesses, and someone writing it down. But God's hand can do miracles all day long, day after day, year after year, forever. Anything God does, is a miracle, and is incredible. With all the witnesses there with Jesus and after, how is it that all those things are ignored, in trade for a turkey? The witnesses went to their death rather than deny God, time and time again, one after another.

    November 26, 2013 at 5:25 am |
    • Ben

      Again, all we have in the Gospels are stories about there being eyewitnesses, just like there were stories about people who witnessed Davy Crockett wrestle bears.

      November 26, 2013 at 8:23 am |
  5. children of Israel

    What names are written on kingdom for the new Jerusalem? (Revelation 21:12) Who said the laws of the Holy Bible are done away with? (Proverbs 28:9) *St. Matthew 5:17* St. John 7:19

    November 26, 2013 at 5:21 am |
  6. DownWithZion

    Awesome, America and Israel will be off for the day celebrating the same horror story of mass genocide of natives.

    November 26, 2013 at 5:05 am |
    • Sara

      In what way is Thanksgiving a celebration of genocide? Additionally, do you call death from contagious disease genocide? Because that was the number 1 cause of Native American depopulation. Otherwise the European contact was fairly similar to the other tribal move ents and conflicts that had occurred over the preceding millenia.

      November 26, 2013 at 6:54 am |
      • lol??

        wiki,
        "...............Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. ............."

        November 26, 2013 at 7:38 am |
      • Ben

        Sara
        The irony is that Thanksgiving is the story of how the presence of Native Americans proved to be what saved the European settlers whereas the arrival of the European settlers resulted in the downfall of the Native Americans. In one sense, it's the beginning of that tragedy. All the land was already claimed by one indian group or another. These Europeans knew that they were essentially going to conquer the land from the same people who saved them. It would have been a better story if this act of kindness convinced the Europeans to turn back, or at least to treat the indians as equals.

        November 26, 2013 at 8:33 am |
        • DownWithZion

          Exactly. And I am referring to the Israel occupation and murder of the Palestinian natives as opposed to the same thing happening here in America all these years ago. Bottom line, two murderous countries are off on same day and we are told to celebrate their imaginary right to freakin exist.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  7. Heavensent

    Children of Israel and the heathen, both, r ten million miles from home

    November 26, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  8. Horus

    How did all of this get here, athies? U don't no. But, u no it was not gods who did it. U have no evidence to support that doctrine. U begin your faith based on a false premise.

    November 26, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      How did it all get here? The answer is simple. We don't know. But you claim to know that god did it. That just bumps the question back to you. How did your god get there? You don't know do you?

      November 26, 2013 at 6:02 am |
  9. HotAirAce

    How about burning a religious book each day?

    November 26, 2013 at 2:47 am |
  10. children of Israel

    Genesis 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. (Prophecy is being fulfilled) *2nd Timothy 3:2 The world is doing selfie's

    November 26, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Heavensent

      Jesus Christ is god

      November 26, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  11. children of Israel

    The name Jesus is a Roman pagan god. Christ is Hebrew an Israelite, his name is YASHIYA and his Father is AHAYAH I AM THAT I AM (Proverbs 30:4)

    November 26, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • HotAirAce

      No, that is Popeye the Sailor.

      November 26, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  12. children of Israel

    Arab Muslims worship Ishmael. *Genesis 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. – Sarah son. *Genesis 25:11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; (Genesis 27:30) *St. Mark 12:26*

    November 26, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  13. hearties

    If they are this excited over oil lamps, it is hard to imagine they aren't excited about Jesus too, rather than the turkey.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Sara

      What on earth does Jesus have to do with this discussion?

      November 26, 2013 at 12:39 am |
      • hearties

        Jesus (Yeshua) is more loveable than a turkey.

        November 26, 2013 at 1:17 am |
      • hearties

        And he is more loveable than lamps.

        November 26, 2013 at 2:21 am |
        • Hugs

          So are the Care Bears.

          November 26, 2013 at 3:15 am |
        • hearties

          The lamps were a miracle from God, so I can agree they should be happy and celibrate about it. But Jesus was working miracles hand over fist, out of love for the lost and gave his life for us. That is the ultimate love, much more to celibrate about.

          November 26, 2013 at 3:50 am |
        • Sara

          Dd Jasus do something for Thanksgiving or Hannukah or are we supposed to cancel veterans day, Vakentines day and all other holidays and make every day Jesus Day. Still confused.i

          November 26, 2013 at 6:48 am |
        • hearties

          That is a good Sara.

          November 26, 2013 at 7:17 am |
  14. children of Israel

    The north American Indians biblical name is Gad of the twelve tribes of Israel.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • truthprevails1

      You foolish little child. The christians walked in and destroyed these peoples lives. Residential schools say it all and all of it done in the name of your miserable god.

      November 26, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • lol??

      The Bloods and the Crips gave em special casino rights. Isn't THAT special??!!

      November 26, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  15. Giant Ass Seen Descending From Sky All Over The World - CNN

    It is a sign of the END TIMES!
    NOW it is TOO LATE to buy gold, guns, ammo, or toilet paper.

    NOW there is nothing you can do. It is TOO LATE.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  16. Jen S

    This #Hanukkah, dedicate your 8th night #8NE to Ethan Kadish, who was unexpectedly struck by lightning at camp this summer. Light a blue candle, make a contribution to help with ongoing medical expenses http://www.bit.ly/hhl_ethankadish & let Ethan and his family know you are behind them. http://youtu.be/hxilxeXw7n0

    November 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Sharon

      I'm going to dedicate the 8th Night of Hannukah towards this amazing boy!

      November 26, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  17. Apple Bush

    Strangely, many have mistaken the soul "entering" the body with that of the soul "leaving" the body. Ensoulment takes place at death when you are made into a god part. You see, God is a collective. Many soulganisms are entwined to create a powerful deity.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  18. Bob

    My friend Apple Bush is not a true Scotsman.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The hell I'm not! I am actually Scottish AND I always free-ball it.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
      • Bob

        Real Scotsman don't write bad poetry.

        November 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          I agree 100% and since I am a true Scotsman (I am Scottish) and since I don't wear any underwear with my kilt, I will thank you for the complement.

          November 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  19. JW

    Bible questions answered,

    What are the keys to understand the bible?

    1.Have the right attiitude.
    Accept the Bible as God’s Word. Be humble, since God opposes the proud. (1 Thessalonians 2:13; James 4:6) However, avoid blind faith—God wants you to use your “power of reason.”—Romans 12:1, 2.
    Pray for wisdom. “Do not lean upon your own understanding,” the Bible says at Proverbs 3:5. Instead, “keep on asking God” for wisdom in understanding the Bible.—James 1:5.

    2.Be consistent. You will benefit much more from Bible study if you do it regularly rather than sporadically.—Joshua 1:8.

    3.Study by topic. A topical study, in which you analyze what the Bible says about a particular topic or subject, is an effective way to learn what the Scriptures teach. Start with “the beginning lessons,” as it were, and then “go forward to more mature (advanced) teaching.” (Hebrews 6:1, 2, Easy-to-Read Version) You’ll find that you can compare scripture with scripture and learn that various parts of the Bible explain each other, even the parts that are “hard to understand.”—2 Peter 3:16.

    4.Get help from others. The Bible encourages us to accept help from others who understand the Bible. (Acts 8:30, 31) Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a free Bible study program. Like the early Christians, they use Scriptural references to help others discern what the Bible really teaches.—Acts 17:2, 3.

    Things you don’t need

    1.High intellect or education. Jesus’ 12 apostles understood the Scriptures and taught them to others, even though the apostles were considered by some to be “unlettered and ordinary.”—Acts 4:13.

    2.Money. You can learn what the Bible teaches without cost. Jesus told his disciples: “You received free, give free.”—Matthew 10:8.

    November 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      OR you could read a good book.

      November 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  20. Mark

    This whole train of thought is just incredibly stupid – JLo, Brangelina, and every other individual name that must now be combined as we've lost the ability to keep two separate names. . .can't we just celebrate these as two separate holidays, like most other years or are have we gotten too challenged to do even that.

    November 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • lol??

      Hyp-hens are definitely matriotic. You know where that leads.

      Isa 3:12
      As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

      November 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Why do you celebrate the genocide of the native Americans?

      November 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
      • Bob

        Indians liked to scalp and dismember people while they were still alive.

        November 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          It is a shame they were not more successful. The pilgrims had better technology and over the course of 200 years, the Native Americans were destroyed, their land stolen and the few that remain are without dignity. Celebrate? No thanks.

          November 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
        • Sara

          Native American tribes have been fighting one another for land for thousands of years. Several waves crossed into The Americas, each displacing the next. The Europeans were simply another wave open to no more and no leass criticisms than any other group.

          November 26, 2013 at 12:09 am |
      • lol??

        Why do you celebrate abortions??

        November 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          I don't celebrate all abortions.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Ave atque vale

      Mark,

      1) O tempore! O mores!
      (Oh, the times! Oh, the customs!)

      2) This is a humorous piece. Lighten up.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
      • Ave atque vale

        * aaaah, make that "tempora", not "tempore"

        November 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.