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A rare chance to have a Kosher Thanksgiving

What happens when one of America's biggest turkey and stuffing-filled holidays falls at the exact same time as the Jewish celebration Hanukkah? Thanksgivukkah!

The phenomenon is extremely rare and only recorded to have happened once or twice between now and 1863 — the year Thanksgiving was officially declared a US public holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. In 1888, Thanksgiving took place on the first day of Hanukkah; some are projecting it won't happen again until the year 79,811.

For some Jewish families, Thanksgivukkah is a once in a lifetime chance to enjoy two great cultural holidays at once. It will likely involve feasting on a combination of latkes and turkey, spending time with family and close friends and lighting the menorah to reflect on all they have to be thankful for.

Long time Bermuda resident Lena Ostroff, who is a member of the Jewish faith, said Thanksgiving has always been one of her favourite holidays because of its inclusivity, allowing Americans of all faiths the chance to celebrate their blessings.

“I also like that it is not based on shopping, spending lots of money and buying gifts,” she said. “It's a joyous occasion that asks nothing of us but to express our gratitude, appreciation and thanks for our many blessings.

“It is an opportunity to relax with loved ones and friends, share delicious food and enjoy a peaceful, tranquil day.”

This year's celebrations will be all the more special considering the excitement surrounding Thanksgivukkah.

Ms Ostroff said: “This is indeed a special occasion and the only time in the [recent] past or in the future that the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have ever been or will be celebrated together.

“Like many people, we will be adding latkes (potato pancakes) to the menu along with the traditional Thanksgiving fare.”

Hannukah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, is celebrated to mark when Jewish revolutionaries claimed back a temple from Syrian-Greek soldiers, who wanted them to worship the god Zeus.

The Jewish people rededicated the temple to God and restored it's ritual purity by lighting a menorah for eight days.

Today the Jewish holiday is typically marked by eating fried food, lighting a candelabrum and playing a popular game, called spinning the dreidel.

In America people gobble up latkes, often served with either sour cream or applesauce. While in Israel people are known to enjoy sufganiyot, a jelly-filled doughnut, which is fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners' sugar before being served.

When asked what she would be doing to celebrate this year, Ms Ostroff said: “We will light a menorah, the candle holder used to mark each night of Hanukkah.

“My family back in California will be gathered to together to celebrate. I will be sharing the holiday with good friends here in Bermuda.

“And on Sunday, 1 December, the Jewish Community of Bermuda will be marking Hanukkah with a communal pot luck dinner that will

include lots of traditional food and a candle lighting ceremony with Hebrew blessings and songs.”

In honour of Thanksgivukkah, bloggers and foodies have come up with some special recipes that blend both traditions.

Kosher turkey with challah apple stuffing, latkes with cranberry applesauce and sweet potato latkes might all find a way onto Thanksgiving tables this holiday season.

Outside of the home, Macy's in New York City will be marking the occasion by including a giant dreidel in its Thanksgiving Day Parade, while one congregation in Pikesville, Maryland, is expected to set off fireworks in honour of Thanksgivukkah.

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Published November 28, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm)

A rare chance to have a Kosher Thanksgiving

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