WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Jewish families in Westchester communities are poised and planning for the rare convergence of the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday and the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights or Hanukkah, which is being called “Hanu-giving,” or “Thanksgivukkah.”
Last recorded in 1888, and, according to one calculation, not to happen again for another 77,798 years -- give or take a millennium -- the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah is being embraced locally in towns and villages as well as synagogues and eateries.
Rabbi Josh Dorsch of New Rochelle's Beth El Synagogue Center said the chance meeting of the holidays fits perfectly into the Jewish faith's belief that Thanksgiving should be kept each day. Beth El is hosting a Hanukkah Shabbat event on Friday, Nov. 29 that features entertainment and day-after Thanksgiving dinner.
"Jewish tradition asks us to say 100 blessings every day, so having our Thanksgiving and Hanukkuh meet this year is a perfect blessing," Rabbi Dorsch said. "We are very excited about having the opportunity to reinforce our faith and join all Americans in a universal holiday celebration."
Dorsch was also thrilled to mention that this year's traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City would feature a three-story spinning Dreidel balloonicle that will float down 2.5 miles of Manhattan streets for the first time in recognition of the first night of Hanukkah.For those who can not attend the parade it will be televised beginning at 9 a.m. on NBC-TV.
For those who look forward to the bounty of food prepared for both holidays, families and local eateries are setting their tables..
“Thanksgivukkah is a truly rare event on the Jewish calendar," said Robert DeGroat of Epstein's Kosher Deli & Restaurant in Hartsdale. "We are busy preparing our store for this special holiday that both our Kosher and Non-Kosher customers alike will savor this holiday season. We have a full list of special treats we have from our combined Thanksgiving and Hanukkah menus. We have been serving the Greenburgh community for over 43 years and are very excited about this upcoming rare holiday."
According to the experts at Epstein's Deli, Thanksgivukkah fare includes roasted turkey with stuffing, gravy, Cranberry Compote, soup, choice of potato and vegetable, mini Challah dinner tolls and choice of dessert for those eating out or ordering in. The more traditional Hanukkah menu includes whole roasted chickens with stuffing or baked brisket of beef with gravy with Matzoh Ball soup, potato Latkes with apple sauce, vegetables and mini Challah rolls.
"New this year, we are serving our sweet potato latkes along with our long list of traditional Hanukkah Kosher appetizers, entrées, side dishes and salads," DeGroat said.
Adding to the Thanksgiving Day festivities that include family dinners, football and parties, the holiday will also the lighting of the Menorah in villages like Ardsley, where the first candle will be lit Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. by Chabad of the Rivertowns in Ardsley Square.
Other Menorah lightings in Westchester include:
Nov. 27: Ardsley Community Menorah Lighting; Legion Park, 15 Park Avenue, Ardsley.
Dec. 1: Celebrate the Festival of Lights with an afternoon of joyful music at the Annual Menorah Lighting at Westchester's Ridge Hill in Yonkers.
Dec. 2-4: Celebrate the holiday with traditional treats and songs by the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester Lower School Choir at the Hanukkah Celebration & Menorah Lighting at the Ritz-Carlton Westchester in White Plains.
Dec. 4: Join local dignitaries at the Hanukkah Community Menorah Lighting and light the giant menorah in front of the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale.
Dec. 1: Irvington Community Menorah Lighting; Main Street in front of the Fire House, Irvington
Dec. 2: Dobbs Ferry Community Menorah Lighting; Corner of Cedar and Main streets, Dobbs Ferry.
Dec. 3: Hastings Community Menorah Lighting; VFW, 558 Warburton Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson