Convergence of Hanukkah, Thanksgiving unleashes creativity

NEW YORK — Americans are responding creatively to this year’s convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

The last time it happened was 1888, and the next convergence might prompt Jews to light their candles from spaceships — 79,043 years from now, by one calculation.

A 9-year-old New York boy invented the ‘‘Menurkey’’ and raised more than $48,000 for his trademarked, Turkey-shaped menorah. Woodstock-inspired T-shirts depict a turkey perched on the neck of a guitar and call for ‘‘8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes.’’ ’’


Songs have popped up, such as ‘‘The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah.’’ It was co-written by Rabbi David Paskin of the Kehillah Schechter Academy in Norwood, Mass.

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‘‘It’s pretty amazing to me that in this country we can have rich secular and rich religious celebrations and that those of us who live in both worlds can find moments when they meet and can really celebrate that convergence. There are a lot of places in the world where we would not be able to do that,’’ Paskin said.

The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift from year to year when compared with the US, or Gregorian, calendar. It starts this year on Nov. 27, with Thanksgiving the next day.

But much of the intrigue over Hanukkah this year is buried in the history of Thanksgiving itself, which has not always had a fixed date.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November (the month sometimes has five of those) and the holiday remained there until President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution of Congress fixing it as the fourth Thursday.