How to Celebrate Thanksgivukkah

  • Written by RUTH NEMZOFF
  • Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 06:00
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Q: Why is this Hanukkah different from all other Hanukkahs?

A: Because it falls on Thanksgiving!

Q: How should we celebrate?

A: With the time-honored American tradition of each ethnic group adding their distinctive foods to the table. Turkey and latkes are the perfect combination.

Q: But I want to be more than a gastronomic Jew...

A: Buy or make a menorah, and light the candles after reciting the prayers, which can be found on the Internet.

Q: How do I create a festive atmosphere?

A: Invite family members to bring their musical instruments. Buy some Hanukkah music and start a raucous Hanukkah songfest! Encourage kids to decorate the house with dreidels, lights and handmade symbols of the two holidays. This Hanukkah-Thanksgiving hybrid is only limited by your creativity.

Q: What about some substance?

A: Read about the history of Hanukkah, searching for various interpretations. Come to the table with information about the holiday and the ethical questions it raises. Most probably, it will elevate family conversations.

Q: What if a family member uses the Maccabean rebellion to justify Palestinian terrorism?

A: Embrace the discussion. What aspects of the Maccabean rebellion are similar to Palestinian demands? What are different? What is the historical context? Discuss the difficulties of coming to a solution. Focus on how the microcosm (the family) mirrors the macrocosm (international politics). Families get along by accepting imperfect solutions and treating each other civilly. The discussion can then morph to how each side could be more civil.

Q: My kids have no interest in Judaism. What should I do?

A: You can still light the candles, share your memories of Hanukkah, and teach the history.

Q: How can I make my non-Jewish in-laws feel more comfortable?

A: It’s okay not to know all the traditions. Explain the story, have the prayers transliterated, and prepare song sheets. Jewish family members will be grateful, too.

Last modified on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 06:00

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