Thanksgivukkah! Huh?

Yes, Thanksgivukkah. For the first time since 1888, the all-American harvest celebration and the first night of the Jewish Festival of Lights coincide, on Thursday, November 28. There's even a Facebook page about it, from which we've borrowed the Woodstock-ish image.

Jonathan Mizrahi, a graduate student in quantum physics (and no relation to the designer Isaac Mizrahi, as far as I know), has calculated that this convergence of the Gregorian (secular) and Jewish (religious) calendars won't happen again until the year 79811. The redoubtable Steve Morse (mentioned in a previous post about calendars) arrived at a date slightly different from Mizrahi's, but everyone agrees that this is an extremely rare event, not to be repeated in our lifetimes.

Careful readers will notice that Morse spells the name of the holiday Chanukah rather than Hanukkah. There's an old saying that if there are two Jews in a room, there are at least four opinions. Seriously, there's no universally accepted way of spelling Hebrew words in English. An Israeli newspaper turned the portmanteau (fused) word the other way round by proposing "Chanksgiving" instead of Thanksgivukkah. So take your pick. For a tongue-in-cheek look at this unique holiday, read this New York Times article. For a lip-smacking hybrid recipe, check this out.

And while you're enjoying your turkey with latkes (potato pancakes), don't forget that we are in the midst of Jewish Book Month. Unlike Thanksgivukkah, Jewish Book Month occurs on a predictable schedule. Officially, "it is observed during the month proceeding Hanukkah, thus the exact date changes from year to year." In 2013, with Hanukkah starting so early, Jewish Book Month began on October 26 and ends on November 26. This annual celebration of Jewish literary culture originated in the mind of a librarian back in 1925. Playing on the sobriquets "the Chosen People" and "the People of the Book," the Jewish Book Council hosts a blog titled The ProsenPeople. There you can learn even more about Thanksgivukkah. In bad Yiddish, Essen, fressen un leyzen (Eat, overeat, and read).

The Council recognizes outstanding books in each of several categories with the National Jewish Book Award. This year's honorees will be announced on March 20, 2014. Here some of the 2012 finalists and winners, two for adults and two for children:

Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy

Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders by Joy Ladin

Meet at the Ark at Eight by Ulrich Hub

The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Written by Joe Cahn on November 6, 2013


AlbertoP on November 10, 2013


For the first time ever my parents are coming to Denver to celebrate both their first Janucá (Spanish spelling) and their first Acción de gracias (Thanksgiving in Cervantes' words) and we got to be so lucky that it is the same day! Yay!

Anonymous on November 12, 2013


Gracias por el comentario, Alberto. Ojalá que tus padres viajen con toda seguridad y que todos se diviertan en Denver. ¿Van a conocer a tu hijo por la primera vez? Como decimos nosotros, mazel tov a los abuelos.

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