THANKSGIVIKKAH?? – by Rabbi Baruch Cohon
Although my blog usually discusses the weekly Torah reading, let’s make an exception this week. This week the Torah continues the story of Joseph, and many writers dealt with that. Try Thomas Mann for one. What’s particularly unusual this week is the coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.
In my family, this coming weekend we will celebrate not one, not two, but three happy events.
Hanukkah brings us good company and food and songs. And gifts – traditionally Hanukkah gelt(holiday money), but generally translated into merchandise. And of course we illuminate the house with those bright menoros, adding one candle each night until we reach the total of 8, to fulfill the duty ofparsumey nissa (advertising the miracle). The miracle of Hanukkah, we learn, was not the military victory, unlikely though that was. It was the dedication of the Temple which had been polluted by the idolatry of the invaders, with the famous little one-day jug of oil that burned for 8 days!
Thanksgiving brings us the great American harvest festival, which our pioneers modeled after the Biblical Succos holiday, and shared with their Wampanoag Indian neighbors. Just for an added dimension, we can note that a second reason for the 8 days of Hanukkah was the fact that as long as the Greeks and Syrians occupied Jerusalem the Jews could not observe the 8 days of Succos and Shmini Atzeres in the holy Temple, so after the Maccabees drove the invaders out, they celebrated those days late.
On this wonderful weekend we also celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of our youngest grandchild, Cipora Anjy Cohon. Otherwise known as CeCe. In 2000 she was born on the 4th day of Hanukkah, which in that year fell on Dec. 25th. A local TV station sent a crew to the hospital to film “the first Christmas baby of the new millennium” – only to discover that it was the rabbi’s daughter. “I guess we’ll call this one a Hanukkah baby,” said the reporter. This year CeCe will be a Hanukkah adult!
Check Hanukkah on the internet and you will find many predictions that the calendar coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will not happen again for some 70,000 years or more. I can say with all confidence that our triple occasion will not happen again for even longer.
“Thanksgivikkah” greetings to one and all.