It’s Thanksgivukkah, so have some menurkey


It last occurred 125 years ago, and it will not happen again for 70,000 years, so it is no wonder that American Jews are making a big deal of “Thanksgivukkah”.

That is what they are calling the coinciding next Thursday of the first day of Chanucah and the festival of Thanksgiving — when Americans remember how the Pilgrim Fathers celebrated their first harvest with a three-day feast.

Nottingham-based chabadniks, Rabbi Mendy Lent and his wife Brocha will be among the several thousand British-based American Jews who will be mixing and matching the two holidays.

Among the Chanucah latkes and doughnuts the Lents and their three children will be tucking into, there will be surprises added to the table — not least the turkey-shaped challah, turkey being traditional Thanksgiving fare.

“I find it so bizarre that the two holidays are falling on the same day”, said Ms Lent, who was born and raised in New York. “I’ll be cooking Shabbos dinner with turkey and stuffing, and of course apple pie for desert. It makes me feel good to be doing something patriotic so far away from home. ”

Thanksgivukkah was originally conceived in the US by Boston resident Dana Gitell, who noticed the quirk in 2013’s calendar. She quickly took to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.

Interest in the holiday soared, with hybrid menus created, and anthems composed that sung of “turkey stuffed with fried latkes”. Now turkey-shaped menorahs — or “Menurkeys” — can be bought online, while T-shirts, mugs, and festive kippot are also on offer.

One particular image has spread around the globe — a revamp of the famous Grant Wood painting, American Gothic, re-titled Gothikkah, with its iconic figure of a farmer now complete with shtreimel and menorah.

For IBM consultant Adam Labi, whose mother comes from Alaska, Thanksgiving already provides the perfect Jewish context to celebrate. The 24-year-old said: “I love it because of the food and the excuse it gives for the family to come together, much like a Shabbat dinner”.

According to American-born Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler, who will be celebrating with wife Tracey and nine-year-old daughter Shalva, the holidays share similar messages. He said: “Thanksgiving is obviously about giving thanks, and Chanucah is linked up with saying that we’re grateful for the miracles that have happened in the past.

“We will be thinking about what we’re thankful for. And we’ll definitely be having latkes with cranberry sauce.”

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