With Thanksgiving falling on the first day of Hanukkah, Jewish families in Bartow County are busy preparing for these converging holidays.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Randi Sonenshine, who resides in Cartersville with her husband, Marty, and their two sons. “I think it’s definitely brought it more into the media’s attention and the fact that it coincides with Thanksgiving is a very unique thing. It’s a once in a lifetime [event]. It will not happen again during this century.
“A lot of times, it will fall the same time Christmas does and it gets kind of lost in that, whereas it being earlier this year and connected to Thanksgiving, it makes it more unique. It makes it a little more exciting, especially for the kids, because it’s just a fun thing to say ‘Thanksgivukkah’ and to see all the T-shirts — [such as a] turkey with the feathers [that] are candles of the menorah. There’s all kinds of T-shirts and [other items] commemorating Thanksgivukkah 2013. So it’s fun, it’s just fun.”
While Sonenshine believes the overlapping nature of the two holidays is a special occurrence, her family is not planning to blend the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — an eight-day recognition of the Maccabees reclaiming and rededicating the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in the 160s B.C. During Hanukkah, Jews traditionally light a menorah, which calls back to the oil in the Temple miraculously providing light for eight days — seven more than expected.
“We’ll have some family here for Thanksgiving and we’ll do our Thanksgiving like we normally do,” Sonenshine said. “Then in the evening we’ll light the Hanukkah candles and do what we normally do if it were Hanukkah. We have two boys, so we give a gift to the boys. When they were younger, we would read Hanukkah stories or something like that. Sometimes we’ll play a game or we’ll watch a movie.
“... Usually we’ll have one big Hanukkah party/feast with family. My sister-in-law is in Richmond with her family. If they were here, we would do it all at once. But they’re out of town, so [we will] probably [gather] this weekend.”
According to the Associated Press’ report, “... U.S. Jews are dealing with a rare quirk of the calendar on Thursday that overlaps Thanksgiving with the start of Hanukkah. The last time it happened was 1888 and the next is 79,043 years from now — by one estimate widely shared in Jewish circles.
“... The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift slightly from year to year when compared to the U.S., or Gregorian, calendar. Jewish practice calls for the first candle of eight-day Hanukkah to be lit the night before Thanksgiving Day this year, so technically ‘Thanksgivukkah’ ... falls on the ‘second candle’ night.”
Kingston resident Nancy Brant said there are two schools of thought about the upcoming holidays.
“A lot of people are against calling it [Thanksgivukkah] because they feel that it takes away from either holiday, that they both deserve celebration in their own right,” Brant said. “... So a lot of Jews will celebrate the normal Thanksgiving and some will celebrate for a lack of a better word Thanksgivukkah, but most people will choose one of the other days like our services at our temple will be at some point over this weekend or during the eight days of Hanukkah as far as a religious celebration of it and ... every night for eight days you’re going to light the Hanukkah candle.
“Our celebration at our house, we’ll have Thanksgiving on Thursday and we’ll have Hanukkah on Friday. ... Thanksgiving and Hanukkah both celebrate religious freedom or freedom from oppression, the search for individual freedom. So I think that’s why this year, it’s kind of exciting that it falls together.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this article.