Faith Matters: Thanksgivukkah is once-in-lifetime holiday occurrence

November 9, 2013 

Have you heard?

There is a new holiday on the calendar this year: Thanksgivukkah.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. The first day of Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

The first night of the festival is the Wednesday evening before turkey day. The last time this happened was in 1888.

I may miss this coincidence when it happens again in 2070!

It is a rather curious event, based on the intersection of the Hebrew lunar calendar and our solar version. The bottom line is we are about to experience a unique and remarkable moment, joining the themes of giving thanks and dedication.

Our festival of Chanukah commemorates the Jews winning back the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following years of war against the Greco-Syrian Empire. The Greeks had desecrated the Temple by making it a place to bring sacrifices to their chief god, Zeus.

The heroic Maccabees cleaned the Temple and rededicated it to the service of the Jewish people and God. The word chanukah is derived from the Hebrew word for "dedication."

Many of us are familiar with the Talmudic story about the little jug of oil, enough for only one day, which burned for eight days, until they could obtain more oil.

The miracle is not that the oil lasted. The miracle is the steadfast faith of those who rededicated the Holy Temple.

The Jews who relit the menorah understood they had insufficient oil; still, they lit the lamps.

They had great faith and knew that they were doing the right thing. They knew, and we know as well, that someone can kindle the fire and it will glow with radiance and inspire even greater light.

Please join us at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, right on the street in front of the old Manatee Players, for our now famous "Downtown Bradenton Chanukah Celebration." Our friends and neighbors of all faiths are warmly invited. It is truly a time of joy and revelry.

Also, at 10:30 a.m. next Saturday morning, Nov. 16, our special guest scholar will be Broward College Professor Emeritus Dr. Howard Sorkin speaking on "The Jews of Cuba." It will be a fascinating multimedia presentation. All are welcome and there is no charge (never on the Sabbath!).

Now, for the only time in most of our lives: Happy Thanksgivukkah to One and All.

Rabbi Harold Caminker: 941-755-4900 (Temple), 941-806-9925 (cell), ravhfc1@aol.com (email). Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.

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