In a rare convergence of the calendar, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, fall on the same date this year: November 28. The reason for the fuss: It is a holiday mashup that has happened only once before, in 1888, according to those who track the Jewish calendar. And it is one that isn’t set to happen again for potentially another 70,000-plus years.
It’s a turkey. It’s a menorah. It’s Thanksgivukkah!
An extremely rare convergence this year of Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah has created a frenzy of Talmudic proportions.
There’s the number crunching: The last time it happened was 1888, or at least the last time since Thanksgiving was declared a federal holiday by President Lincoln, and the next time may have Jews lighting their candles from spaceships 79,043 years from now, by one calculation.
www.hosted.ap.org – By STACY A. ANDERSON Associated Press
Obama celebrates Hanukkah at White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Hanukkah is a story of “resilience and optimism.”
He and first lady Michelle Obama held a White House reception Thursday on the sixth evening the Jewish Festival of Lights.
In the Hanukkah story, a small band of Jews rededicating a Jerusalem temple found that a one-day supply of oil kindled a flame instead for eight.
Thursday’s celebration included the reciting of traditional prayers and the lighting of candles in a 90-year old menorah from a temple in Long Island, N.Y., that sustained heavy flooding during Superstorm Sandy.
Obama said the menorah is “a symbol of perseverance” and “a reminder of resilience and hope in the fact that we will be there for them as they recover.”
He also reasserted America’s “unshakable” support for Israel.
Jews around the world usher in Hanukkah
Jews around the world ushered in the eight-day Hanukkah festival Saturday evening, lighting the first candles of ceremonial lamps that symbolize triumph over oppression.
In Israel, families gathered after sundown for the lighting, eating traditional snacks of potato pancakes and doughnuts and exchanging gifts.
Local officials lit candles set up in public places, while families displayed the nine-candle lamps, called menorahs, in their windows or in special windproof glass boxes outside.
Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which had tried to impose its culture on Jews and adorn the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods.
The holiday lasts eight days because according to tradition, when the Jews rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day, burned miraculously for eight.
For many Jewish people, the holiday symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Observant Jews light a candle each night to mark the holiday.
Oily foods are eaten to commemorate the oil miracle, hence the ubiquitous fried doughnuts and potato pancakes, known as latkes.
In Israel, children play with four-sided spinning tops, or dreidels, decorated with the letters that form the acronym “A great miracle happened here.” Outside of Israel, the saying is “A great miracle happened there.”
Israeli students get time off from school for the holiday, when families gather each night to light the candles, eat and exchange gifts.
Hanukkah … which means dedication … is one of the most popular holidays in Israel, and has a high rate of observance.
In Ohio, the first public candle lighting on Saturday will be by Holocaust survivor Abe Weinrib, who turns 100 next week. Weinrib, who will light the first candle on a 13-foot public menorah at Easton Town Center in Columbus, said his biggest triumph was surviving the Holocaust, the Nazi campaign to eliminate Jews in Europe.
Weinrib told The Columbus Dispatch newspaper that he was arrested while working in Polish factories owned by his uncle when he was in his 20s. He spent six years imprisoned in camps, including the notorious Auschwitz.
In New York City, Jews are celebrating the holiday’s start with the ceremonial lighting of a 32-foot-tall menorah at the edge of Central Park.
Dignitaries, rabbis and a big crowd are expected Saturday evening for the ceremony. The steel menorah weighs 4,000 pounds and stands tall enough that organizers will need an electric utility crane to reach the top. It has real oil lamps, protected from the wind by glass chimneys.
A large menorah is also ready to be lit on the lawn in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The menorah is being put up by the Philadelphia Lubavitch Center, a group dedicated to Jewish education.
www.israelnationalnews.com By Maayana Miskin
Muslims Riot, Jews Banned from Temple Mount
Jews have been barred from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem until Sunday, the last day of Hanukkah. The Temple Mount is the holiest site on earth according to Jewish tradition.
The ban is aimed at preventing a Muslim riot at the site. Riots are thought to be particularly likely following Friday prayers.
It follows riots and terror attacks in Judea and Samaria. Tensions were particularly high following two incidents in which soldiers shot Arab attackers in Hevron.
Jewish organizations dedicated to Temple Mount activism expressed upset at the police ban. “The police treat the Temple Mount like a Muslim site, and open it to others only when necessary for tourism, at times and on days that suit tourists,” activists accused.
“In comparison,” they continued, “Jewish residents of Israel are discriminated against.”
They called to leave the Temple Mount open to Jews on every Jewish holiday. “The police must consider the many who wish to ascend the Mount for prayers and visits on Jewish holidays, and to institute the model used in the Tomb of the Patriarchs,” they urged. The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron is normally split between Jews and Muslims, but is opened in its entirety to each religion on its holidays.
Currently Jewish prayer is not allowed on the Temple Mount, again for fear of Muslim reactions. Jews are allowed to visit the holy site but can be arrested for praying or even moving their lips in what appears to be prayer.
Activist groups have intervened against such arrests, and have successfully lobbied police to ease anti-Jewish discrimination.