The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) — When life gives you Hanukkah on Thanksgiving, make a menurkey. Or a turkel.

That's what students at suburban Detroit's Hillel Day School are doing — creating paper-and-paint mashups of menorahs and turkeys, and the birds combined with dreidels.

The recent class projects at the Farmington Hills school illustrate one way 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 convergence of the secular and sacred holidays is presenting opportunities for many Jews and challenges for others — including concerns about everything from extra preparation and party planning to those who think they will dilute or devalue both celebrations.

The dilemma is best illustrated by Hillel Day School teacher Lori Rashty, who recently watched eighth-grade students help second-graders plant their freshly painted hands onto paper to make the turkey, then transform the four finger feathers into candles to incorporate a menorah.

"I think it's a nice way to integrate the two holidays," Rashty said. "Since we're not going to see it again for 79,000 years, it's kind of an exciting way for the kids to realize that it's a special occasion for them."

Still, she added, the double-barreled holiday extracts a personal toll.

"For me it's a little overwhelming 'cause I don't have time to get ready for Hanukkah," she said. "I feel like personally it takes away a little bit from Hanukkah."

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," — or "Thanksgivvukah," as the Hillel students spell it — falls on the "second candle" night.

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