When Lou Greenstein sits for his holiday meal today, there will be a roasted turkey, Indian pudding, stuffing as well as latkes, tzimmes and challah bread.
As a Jew, Greenstein will be celebrating Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on the same day as the second candle on the menorah will be lit tonight. This is the first time since 1918 that the two holidays have overlapped, and it will not happen again until 2070, according to Chabad.org.
Hanukkah, known as the festival of lights, began at sundown on Wednesday. The eight-day holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In 165 B.C. Judah Maccabee and his brothers led a victorious battle over the Syrians, who had forced them to worship Greek gods. After the temple was desecrated, Maccabee found consecrated oil for one day, but it miraculously lasted eight days (when new consecrated oil was ready).
The first Thanksgiving in what would become the United States, is believed to have been celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans as a way to give thanks for a good harvest. It started to be celebrated as an official holiday in 1863 and was designated the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.
Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein said there are similarities between Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, that make the dovetailing of the two holidays particularly apt.
“The pilgrims came to our shore to worship as they saw fit and the Macabees took back the temple to express themselves and worship what they believed,” Goldstein said. “As Jews, when we converge at Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, it represents the two aspects of who we are in America.”
Other spiritual leaders like Elizabeth Beraha of Congregation Anshe Sholum in Lawrence does not see Thanksgiving and Hanukkah separately.
“Both come from a holiday of gratitude and have an overlapping message,” Beraha said. “I love this occurrence.”