Contributor Marilyn Brandt Smith – Thanksgivukkah

What are you doing Thanksgiving eve? Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide this year. Some enterprising folks see this as a commercial opportunity, but in my mind, that’s not all bad. A lady designed a t-shirt in her mind while waiting in traffic on her way to work. A nine-year-old dreamed up a turkey-shaped menorah, and with the help of the Kickstarter Internet fundraising platform, he got that ball rolling. I love my friend Robert’s Yiddish expressions and his stories of being misunderstood and sometimes misunderstanding students and teachers in his mostly Christian school in Brooklyn. So I decided to embrace the present opportunity for the blending of cultures and traditions.

First I bought a “Star of David” shaped Bundt cake pan. Sure, I’ll make a cake, but I’ll also make my southern corn bread. I also bought some “Star of David” earrings. Do I dare wear them to my strict Baptist in-laws’ Christmas dinner?

My son Jay studied the menorah lighting rules with great diligence, and hopefully we’ll get it right, starting the eve of Thanksgiving, and running for eight nights. Ours is electric of course, but it’s beautiful. Jews in Jerusalem before the time of Christ needed to rededicate their temple after it was desecrated by the Greeks. Oil for that purpose was in short supply – only enough for one night’s burning. More had to be consecrated, and that required eight days. The oil lasted eight days. The eight candles on the menorah represent the miracle.

As I read stories about the holocaust, I have always wondered and hoped, had I been there, I would have helped with the resistance – hiding Jews and helping them to escape. This all presumes, of course, that I wouldn’t have been whisked away because of my disability – many people were. Today’s issues are different, but they are still about intolerance throughout the world.

Yes, we bought dreidels, too. We will spin them for the chocolate coins in gold foil bearing the old symbols. Let’s hope we can get better at it in the next two weeks. The stuffed dreidel that plays music, “I Have a Little Dreidel,” has raised symbols, but it’s more a decoration than the wooden ones we will probably use. It sounds like a fun game.

This new twist on Thanksgiving and an introduction to the holidays makes me smile. According to the Jewish calendar, this shouldn’t happen again for nearly 80,000 years. Next year, the last day of Hanukkah is December 23. I hope we do it again.

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