Thanksgivukkah and Advent

Having several Holy days around us we should consider why those days are special and deserve to be placed separate (holiness : being set apart).

Dedication and illumination

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews have their eight day festival of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, also called “Feast of the Maccabees“, in the Talmud principally known as the “Feast of Illumination.” But what is illuminated? Is it just about displaying eight lamps on the first night of the festival, and to reduce the number on each successive night, or to begin with one lamp the first night, increasing the number till the eighth night? Or is it only remembering the relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah due to a miracle which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislev?

A Ḥanukkah Lamp found in Jerusalem Excavations.(In the possession of J. D. Eisenstein) says:

“[We thank Thee] also for the miraculous deeds and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by Thee, as well as for the wars which Thou didst wage for our fathers in days of yore at this season.

Provider of light, waters, earth, plants and animals

Clearly it is not just only saying thanks for the wars having come to a good end. It is also a time to reflect on the Wonders of the Most High Adonai. Throughout history the Divine Creator God did not only provide the light of this world, the streaming waters, the food giving plants and the many animals which can be used as meat to get more strength.

In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous kingdom of Greece [Syria] rose up against God  tried to make His people Israel forget God His Law and to turn them away from the ordinances of His Will. Taking this in mind we should notice that those adversaries of God (Satan) did not manage to get the people of God away from God. In God His abundant mercy He lifted them up. Those occupied with the Law of God could manage to get through all the troubles which came over them by the many years.

A blessing from the Jews

Not only the Jews should remember those blessings God gave to His people. By the deed of the only begotten son of God, the Jewish Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus Christ) salvation has come to other people people than the Jewish Judean people. Everybody has been called to follow Jesus the Messiah. He has been the greatest gift the Most High has given the world.

To say thanks for that gift and the many other blessings God has given this world many protestants feast Thanksgiving Day. This year they can celebrate their holy days with the Jews and give them also a stronger feeling of being respected as the Chosen People of our Creator. Certainly in this time of  growing anti-Semitism it is necessary that people are remembered of their special role those people do have in the Plan of God and world-peace.

Season of giving presents

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Electric candle lights on the first Sunday in Advent

Catholics do like a lot of gifts and are also entering a season of gifts. This weekend they celebrate the beginning of Advent, looking forward to the ‘Light of God’. Following the Sunday of the Feast of Christ the King they have this weekend  Advent Sunday, starting a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus which they celebrate at Christmas. On the night of 5 to 6 December Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christians have Saint Nicholas bringing presents for the children. On the 24th and 25th of December they have their most special day of the year, being Christmas. Followed by the last day to give presents on the first day of the New Year, celebrating the circumcision of Jesus. That Feast of the Circumcision is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on January 1 in whichever calendar (Old or New) is used, and is also celebrated on the same day by many Anglicans.

Advent wreaths are used to mark the passage of the season.

In the Advent Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist believers think about the first and second coming of Christ. (Parousia ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit, is adventus in Latin.) Those Christians do look for the shining of their lord. That manifestation, striking appearance they also want to celebrate in the feast with that name epiphany (“appearing”) which they took from the Greeks who used ‘epiphaneia’ to describe the glorious manifestation of the gods, and by the Romans as a title for the Emperor. For them Christ Jesus is such a manifestation or appearance of a divine or superhuman being and a manifestation of the gods, being god the son, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Passage of season

Like the protestants with their celebration of Thanksgiving, the Christians who celebrate the Advent remember the passage of the seasons and the special gift God has given the world. Both take it also as a time to meditate on the Works of God and how He is the Light in the dark, guiding us to the way to enter the Kingdom of God, by means of His only begotten son Jesus, the bringer of peace.

A godly mother

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9e/Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_Annunciation.jpg/330px-Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_Annunciation.jpg
Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712. The white lily in the angel’s hand is symbolic of Mary’s purity in Marian art.

The Catholic religion follows the Roman theology presenting Christ his mother as the Venus, the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. The annunciation to Mary (Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord) is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking an Incarnated God and having her as the mother of god or the Venus who embodies sex, love, beauty, enticement, seduction, and persuasive female charm among the community of immortal gods.

Having Jesus an incarnation, he fitted Hermes the god of transitions and boundaries, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. A bringer of presents he symbolises also Mercury, the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), and travellers who will show the way to himself as the most important god.

Like Turms was the equivalent of Roman Mercury and Greek Hermes, both gods of trade and the messenger god between people and gods, Jesus is now celebrated as the divine messenger and god having come down on the earth to save his people.

Bringer of peace

When we look at the description of Jesus in Catholic theology books we clearly can see the superposition of the man born in Bethlehem on the Greek and Roman gods. Having him as Bringer of peace also fits those pagan gods, but we do know that the Real and Only One God told His people to bring a messenger of peace. Lots of Jews did also expect to find in the Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus) to find their liberator or the Messiah who could get rid of the Roman oppressor.

These days we should think of that messenger who brought ‘Grace’ and liberated us not from Romans or any other government literally, but liberated us spiritually and gave us a hope for a better future. That Nazarene Jew is the man of flesh and blood who offered himself so that we would receive space to develop ourselves in the liking of the Creator. By him we should be able to find the way to see the space of all creativity, the connection to the Divine. Many still keep looking outside themselves, but they forget how in the Scriptures is told that we should go into our own body. We can not blame others for our being what we are. We have to create ourselves and find the connection that is inside of us.

Lots of people are looking in the world around them. They should know that there is not really another place where they have to go to. Everybody is enabled to find Him who gives peace, comfort, blessings also in this life here and know on earth. Jesus prepared the way and made it possible that we can speak freely to his Father, the only One God. We just have to come to Him and just have to talk to him, as our closest Friend and He will answer and come to us.

If we want to come to peace, first of all we do have to create peace in ourselves. Therefore we should love ourselves and give the love of Christ the chance to grow in us. Like Jesus showed the world his love we also should find the inner peace he had. Like his peace brought water of life our inner peace should flow out of us flowing into the world.

Time to meditate and to feel

Various menorot used for Hanukkah. 12th throug...

Various menorot used for Hanukkah. 12th through 19th century, CE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putting on those candles in this holiday season, being Jew or Christian, those believers are demanded to see beyond the candle light and to see the real light. they also should come to feel a stillness deep within them, and should get to know how to look for that stillness that allows them to seek the Most High Almighty God Who is One Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

These days we get time to consider how lucky we are where we live and what we can do. We should become aware of all the things we really do get without doing enough for it. We must be aware of the nourishment we can get and the opportunities we get to live nicely and to come to an environment of peace. But oh, so often, we do not see it. We do run past it. We have our eyes shut so that we can not see it. It is all so close to us, but we do have to be willing to open our eyes and be willing to see.

God is prepared to give it you all, but you have to recognise Him and to take His hand.

“Hanukkah as the holiday of ‘miracles’ can help us reframe our gathering together with family and friends at this secular season as an incredible miracle that requires much gratitude,”

David Fainsilber, religious leader at the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe said.

“Thank God for this miracle of life and family, gathering, friends and gratitude.”

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Preceding: A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah

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Read also:

  1. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  2. Being thankful
  3. Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst
  4. What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?
  5. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  6. Count your blessings
  7. God’s Salvation
  8. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  9. A “seed” for the blessing of all mankind would come through the family of Abraham

Dutch articles about the advent:

  1. Adventstijd bezinningstijd
  2. Advent een tijd voor reflectie
  3. Uitkijken naar twee adventen
  4. Een “zaad” voor de zegening van de gehele mensheid gekomen door de familie van Abraham
  5. Uit u zal voorkomen degene die heerser in Israël zal worden
  6. Het grootste geschenk ons gegeven
  7. Wat betreft Korte inhoud van lezingen: Bijgeloof en feesten

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Find also additional reading:

  1. Do No-Thing: The Power of Self Love.
  2. Crazy Messy Love: [Insert Faith Here.]
  3. Legacy of peace
  4. Its Never to Late
  5. I Was to write about love

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  • Jen And Tim Get A Taste Of Thanksgivukkah (new102.cbslocal.com)
    On Thursday, November 28th, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. Many popular websites such as Buzzfeed have created recipes for American Jews so they can incorporate both holidays and have some neat decorating ideas as well.
  • Next Thanksgivukkah in 70,000 years (vtdigger.org)
    “The calendar is drifting forward with respect to the solar cycle at a rate of four days every 1,000 years,” he said. “Right now, the earliest that the first day of Hanukkah can fall is Nov. 28. Coincidentally, this is also the latest that Thanksgiving can fall.”Other mathematicians argue that the phenomenon will never happen again. Regardless, everyone agrees on one thing: Thanksgivukkah is an extremely rare and significant event in our lifetimes.
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    Thanksgivukkah is big business. People are selling T-shirts, table décor, dreidels, jewelry and more in honor of the super holiday.

    But regardless of how people choose to celebrate Thanksgivukkah, this unique historical event offers Jewish Americans an opportunity for introspection and reflection, said David Fainsilber, religious leader at the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe.

    “The thinker behind Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordechai Kaplan, was the first to introduce a Thanksgiving service into his siddur/prayer book,” Fainsilber said. “One of his main contributions to Jewish thought is the concept that, as Jews in America, we live in two civilizations: American and Jewish. Today, as American Jews (or Jewish Americans) this concept is now taken for granted in many ways.

  • Thanksgivukkah 2013 (be-watchful.com)
    Both holidays are about being thanksful so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Thanksgiving is a day when Americans count our blessings and give thanks to those who fought for our freedom and for all that we have. We share a day together with our loved ones.
  • 18 Reasons Why Thanksgivukkah Gives Jews The Best Of Both Worlds (elitedaily.com)
    While it may be a little annoying for some Jews to have to meld two of their favorite holidays into one, it could be a lot worse: imagine if Thanksgiving fell on Yom Kippur! Thanksgivkippur would be terrible! When you think about it, it’s actually pretty awesome that the two holidays fall on the same day. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that every Jew should embrace and look forward to.Here are 18 reasons why Thanksgivukkah gives Jews the best of both worlds
  • Q-C Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah (qctimes.com)
    Justin Teitle of Bettendorf says his family’s partying like it’s 1999.He’s Jewish. His wife is Lutheran. Their two children are Jewish. And Thursday was the only time any of them will ever see Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah fall on the same day. The next time the two coincide will be 79,000 years.
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    “We see it as a great chance for our kids to participate in something that isn’t going to happen again, like New Year’s Eve before the year 2000,” Teitle said.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah (mymorningmeditations.com)
    Amazement never ceases for the enlightened mind.At every moment it views in astonishment the wonder of an entire world renewed out of the void, and asks, “How could it be that anything at all exists?”-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
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    In my recent investigation into the concept (as opposed to the movement) of Christian fundamentalism, I see that at its heart, it is just the attempt to render a basic definition of the essentials of what makes a Christian. It’s the minimum set of standards, so to speak, that one must uphold to be an authentic believer.
  • St. Louis Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah for first time since 1800s (fox2now.com)
    Peggy Umansky has enjoyed preparing for both holidays simultaneously. “People have been very inventive,” she says, “I have half my house decorated for Hanukkah, half decorated for Thanksgiving.”

    Umansky and her daughter made pumpkin-flavored challah, shaped and decorated like a turkey.  “I think it’s fun for the kids when the secular world meets the religious world, and they see that everything can coexist and be fun together,” she explains.

  • ‘Happy Thanksgivukkah!’ (endtimebibleprophecy.wordpress.com)
    Judith Mendelsohn Rood, a Jewish Christian and professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at Biola University, connected Hanukkah to one of Jesus’ most important teachings. In an interview this week, Rood cited John 10:22-42, when Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.

    “In the Old Testament, there’s the festival of tabernacles, where people lived in booths in the fields for eight days,” Rood explained. In the time of Judas Maccabeus, the ruling Greeks would not allow the Jews to celebrate this feast. Once the Maccabees freed Israel from their rule, however, they celebrated Succoth late, and that gave rise to Hanukkah, Rood said.

A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah

Bijbelvorsers notes:

Believers in the Creator God should see that like the third miracle of Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is not really a story about the Pilgrims. But they also may not take it as a ritual of reconciliation post-civil war. More than the recreation of national mythologies for the sake of mending the wounds of fighting between brothers, we should look at the celebrations as a means to take time to thank God for His being with His people, helping them to undergo the battles in this world, making them strong to struggle and to find ways to survive. For all the blessings we are able to receive in this lifetime we should thank the Most High. It is not bad to meditate on our attitude once in a year and to consider how we can praise Jehovah and be thankful finding our way to live here in this world.

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  • Happy Thanksgivukkah! (gjnashen.wordpress.com)
    From the glut of Thanksgivukkah swag and kitsch out there, you’d think American Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have never overlapped before or will never overlap again. And that would be correct — at least not for another 70,000 years.
  • Celebrate Thanksgivukkah! (new102.cbslocal.com)
    Normally Hanukkah falls closer to Christmas time, but this year Turkey day is so late in the month that the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are on the same day.

    So this inspired some awesome merging, kind of like Crystal Pepsi. Wait, you mean Crystal Pepsi wasn’t like the Cristal of Pepsi? OK horrible example. But you get my point.

  • This Is The Official Thanksgivukkah Anthem You’ve Been Waiting For (buzzfeed.com)
    Once every 70,000 years, Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. What is it that makes Thanksgivukkah the most spectacular day ever?
  • Thanksgivukkah! (redtreetimes.com)
    This convergence has been dubbed Thansgivukkah.  Kind of catchy, huh?  I don’t know that there is any real significance here but it sure sounds ominous  (and kind of cool) when you throw in the fact that it won’t happen again for another 77,ooo years or so.  And anytime you get to throw around a portmanteau like Thanksgivukkah, it’s got to be good.  So enjoy your Thanksgivukkah, whether you’re thinking about the Pilgrims or the Maccabees.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah! (marianneknightly.com)
    Upon further research, assuming a generation is about 30 years, that would be about 2,600 “greats” in the above note. But I could be wrong, as I am awful at math.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah, 1888 (ghostsofdc.org)
    Hanukkah and Thanksgiving rarely overlap.  Among its 22 articles covering 2013′s “Thanksgivukkah” holiday mashup, the Washington Post reports that the convergence of turkey and latkes won’t occur again for 77,798 years.

    How did D.C. media report on this calendar quirk the last time it happened — 125 years ago?

  • Thanksgivukkah Latke Burger! (nycnomnom.com)
    We love our Franken-foods, and now we have a Franken-holiday when the first day of Chanukkah falls on Thanksgiving Day (aka Thanksgivukkah).  Mike, being the Domestic Divo that he is, came home on Friday with an idea: let’s make a Latke Burger!

    The plan: latkes in place of buns, a turkey burger with some brisket in there to add flavor, and cranberry ketchup

  • St. Louis Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah for first time since 1800s (fox2now.com)
    The chefs at Kohn’s Kosher Deli, also inspired by this rare occurrence, perfected some new Thanksgivukkah dishes, like sweet potato latkes.  Catering Director Robin Rickerman divulged some hints about their recipe: “A little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and then we top it with sour cream and brown sugar.”

    However, Thanksgivukkah isn’t just about inventive food combinations, or even turkey-shaped menorahs.  Rabbi Yosef Landa with Chabad of Greater St. Louis says the two holidays share some meaning.

    He explains, “One of the messages of Hanukkah is really the same as Thanksgiving. The great miracles that happened, and the Maccabees in their battle to preserve their religious freedom, they established the holiday to give thanks for all the wonderful miracles that happened to them.”

    Even though these holidays won’t coincide for another 70,000 years or more, their powerful messages will remain.  As for those tasty new traditions?  Kohn’s Kosher Deli plans to keep them going.  Rickerman says, “Every year Thanksgiving now, I think we’re going to serve sweet potato latkes, and different stuffings in our donuts.”

  • Thanksgivukkah mashes up rare double holiday (cbc.ca)
    Jews in the U.S. are marking an unusual convergence of secular and religious holidays with American Thanksgiving falling on the second day of Hanukkah, creating the once-in-a-lifetime hybrid holiday Thanksgivukkah.
  • What’s going on Thursday? (Thanksgivukkah!) (brooklynvegan.com)
    Mazel Tofurkey

Said to Myself

aviOn their surfaces, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are simple holidays.  We see the themes of light breaking through the darkness, a few banding together to beat the elements, and the power of having faith in community.  We camp folk know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  So let’s look deeper into the three miracles of Hanukkah.  One miracle is that small group of zealots were able to beat the stronger forces and regain control of the Temple.  When they recaptured the Temple they found one small jar of oil for the menorah in the Temple.  The second miracle was that despite the fact that this small jar only had enough oil for one day it lasted for eight days.  This story about the miraculous Hanukkah oil has allowed us to look past focusing solely on the military victory.  This is important in that the war was not a…

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Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah

In 1888 the world could celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah (Chanukah {חנוכה}) on the same day. In 2013 this happening now brought for some concerns, because this year the two feasts also come together but are by many mixed.

The convergence of the secular and sacred holidays is presenting opportunities for many Jews and challenges for others — including concerns about everything from extra preparation and party planning to those who think they will dilute or devalue both celebrations.

The dilemma is best illustrated by Hillel Day School teacher Lori Rashty, who recently watched eighth-grade students help second-graders plant their freshly painted hands onto paper to make the turkey, then transform the four finger feathers into candles to incorporate a menorah.

Image from a greeting card made by Jewish online gift shop ModernTribe.comWe are facing a real special Hanukkah – Thanksgiving holiday because we shall have to wait for an other for 79,000 years before we would encounter such an occasion again. Looking at what happens in the world now, this probably would not happen as such, because the Third World War shall have happened already and the Millennium shall also have been a fact, after which Christ Jesus shall have handed over the Kingdom of God again to his Father.

But now we can look at the double-barreled holiday, which in certain countries brings a kind of an exciting way for the kids to realize that it’s a special occasion for them.

The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift slightly from year to year when compared to the U.S., or Gregorian, calendar. Jewish practice calls for the first candle of eight-day Hanukkah to be lit the night before Thanksgiving Day this year, so technically “Thanksgivukkah,” — or “Thanksgivvukah,” as the Hillel students spell it — falls on the “second candle” night.

At Hillel Day School, students entering the library see a colourful poster designed to provoke thoughts about the convergent holidays: Under a Thanksgivvukah headline are several questions, including

“How are Thanksgiving and Hanukkah alike?”

It may be very special to have Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on the same day. We should think about the creation, what God has given us all, believers in God and other believers. The secular element for Thanksgiving has been there always because it finds its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, celebrating the reaping of the harvest. In many countries the heathen also had their harvest-home or harvest-festival, where they celebrated the blessings they got from nature. In lots of places was celebrated that the year came to a good end and was hoped and prayed to the gods to go in a good Winter season.

Origin of Thanksgiving

The radical reformers of 1536, wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including the heathen Christmas and Easter, but hose festivals looked to traditionally embedded they did not manage to get them our of the Christian holiday festivals. Though for many serious Bible students and sincere Christians, who knew Christ Jesus was born on the 17th of October 4BCE, the celebration of the goddess of light was a celebration they did not want to associate with. Therefore they wanted to say thanks to their God, and remember the birth of Christ Jesus on an other day.

In the 16th century the heathen holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special or Divine providence.

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, ...

The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Laing Art Gallery (Tyne and Wear Museums) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strangely enough for their holidays they also took secular happenings. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day. In the Autumn of 1621 William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer after the colonists’ first harvest. An other thanksgiving day in 1623 celebrated rainfall after a drought. After 1630 a Day of Thanksgiving came to be observed every year after the harvest and other colonies in New England gradually adopted the practice. In the South the custom did not appear till 1855.

President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, it was changed by the act of congress in 1941 to the fourth Thursday of November.

The first Canadian Thanksgiving or Jour de l’Action de grâce is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher, in thanks not for the harvest but for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs.

In Holland some commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World and thank God for His provisions. {Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609–1620, many of whom had recorded their births, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk.}

Most of the U.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada. The Canadians celebrate it annually on the second Monday in October.

Origin of Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication, the Feast of Light

Antiochus IV Epiphanes had, because of his frustration not to extirpate the Jewish faith, desecrated the Second Temple of Jerusalem. To observe the rededication of the temple in 165 BCE {Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire} , a celebration of 8 days, beginning Kislev 25 (according to the Hebrew calendar), had to bring to the memory the indistinguishable and ever spreading Jewish faith. The ceremony also recalls the Talmud story of how a small, one-day supply of non desecrated oil miraculously burned in the temple for eight full days until new oil could be obtained.

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanukiah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews use a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah. { חנוכה (Hanukkah) is also the Hebrew acronym for ח נרות והלכה כבית הלל — “Eight candles, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel”. This is a reference to the disagreement between two rabbinical schools of thought — the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai — on the proper order in which to light the Hanukkah flames. Shammai opined that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night (because the miracle was greatest on the first day). Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night (because the miracle grew in greatness each day). Jewish law adopted the position of Hillel.}

Today on the first day of the festival the first arm is put on light. The second day a second candle is lighted. Progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (sometimes spelled shamas Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant” or “warden”) or gabbai ((Hebrew: גבאי‎) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicizing and meditating upon Hanukkah is forbidden.

In Sephardic families, the head of the household lights the candles, while in Ashkenazic families, all family members light.

A dedication to God

The name “Hanukkah” derives from the Hebrew verb “חנך”, meaning “to dedicate”. the Jews want to show others around them that they are willing to  dedicate themselves fully to the Most High Creator, the Adonai Elohim יהוה {Jehovah} Who created the heavens and the earth and  said, “Let light come to be,” and light came to be (Genesis 1:3). It was the Messenger of יהוה {Jehovah} who appeared to Mosheh  (Moses) in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. The God Who spoke often by the flames and should be are light in the darkness, is the One Who needs our attention. Those eight days we can meditate on His Works.

Jesus (Jeshua) also celebrated the Feast of lights or Hanukkah.

“22  then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. it was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the temple area, in Shlomo’s colonnade.” (John 10:22-23 CJB)

When  Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon, he wanted to honour his Father and be thankful for all the things He did for him and his followers.

We do not have to go through Solomon’s porch any-more, but we do have to be thankful to our Creator like Jesus was thankful to Him. The Nazarene Jeshua remembered that in 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Jeshua when he was alive never was called Jesus, Issou or ‘Hail Zeus’ and probably would not have liked it to be called that way. This name in honour of the Olympian “Father of gods and men”, the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology was only given many years later in Constantine’s time to adhere with the Roman Empire their gods and to have him as a part of a three-une god like in the Roman-Greek culture. By calling him the same as Zeus, Jeshua also could be called the god father, like Zeus. It was Antiochus who banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple (the sacrifice of pigs to the Greek gods was standard ritual practice in the Ancient Greek religion).

In the light of today

English: Saying grace before carving the turke...

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis in Neffsville, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today Christians do not need to have a circumcision and do not need to bring any offerings, so there is certainly not needed a  sacrifice of pigs.

Hanukkah is not a “Sabbath-like” holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, as specified in the Shulkhan Arukh. It is  and is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals.

For both occasions,  it is all about remembering the wonders of the Most High. The prayers and songs are presented to the Holy One who give us all things even when we may not deserve them. God has given his only begotten son Jeshua (Jesus Christ) who by giving his totally to his Father, presenting his body as a sacrifice, became the Messiah, the one who brought salvation to all people of the world.

“For Hanukkah, you usually just get presents and then for Thanksgiving you just eat. Now everything is just mixed together and I think that’s a great thing.”

said Jason Teper, an eighth-grader who was helping the second-graders with their menurkeys. But in many countries Hanukkah is in the first instance also a period of saying prayers to think God. In some countries the presents became more important. Also for the Christians the presenting food to the table of the lord, sharing the presents God has given us by the Work in nature,made lots of Christians concentrating on preparing a good festival meal at home for themselves. In many countries presents also became part of the holiday festival. For some Thanksgiving Day was such an important day like Christmas is/was for the Catholics.

Combined festivities

Saul Rube, Hillel’s dean of Judaic studies, said the light-hearted combinations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah icons underscore a deeper bond: The Talmud, one of Judaism’s core texts, describes Hanukkah as a “holiday of thanksgiving.”

“The fact that you could meld our Jewish culture and the popular culture is such a wonderful opportunity, when so many times in December observant families feel … torn. They want to be part of that whole holiday season,” he said.

Rube said his Thanksgiving dinner table will have one notable addition: a challurkey, a loaf of Jewish challah bread in the shape of a turkey. Some Detroit-area bakeries are selling them but he found one he liked online from a kosher bakery and ordered it. It was only $12, but a good bit more for shipping.

“I splurged — I told my wife if we amortize the cost over 80,000 years ’til it happens again, it’s not so bad,” he said.

American Jews also love Thanksgiving and celebrate it every year with the rest of America. Some Jews consider Thanksgiving kosher, not for the thanking of the Creator, but because Thanksgiving is generally seen as a secular, national holiday in which people honour family and community, regardless of ethnic group or religious denomination. It is also popularly associated with pilgrims giving thanks for their new life in America, where they could practise their religion freely.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement, says there is “nothing adverse to anything Jewish or contradictory to Judaism” in Thanksgiving.

“For that celebration to happen – as we are in our religious calendar celebrating our own religious freedom, as it was achieved in ancient times – makes it only that more emphatic,” he says.

People preparing meals for the poor at a Jewish community centre in Washington DC

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Additional reading:

  1. Being thankful
  2. Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst
  3. What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?
  4. Barry’s Best Bread for the Challah-Days