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Happy Hanukkah! Enjoy our handy holiday guide.
Happy Hanukkah! Enjoy our handy holiday guide.
This year, the Festival of Lights begins at sundown on November 27, that's the day before Thanksgiving. These holidays haven't come together since 1888, and won't again in our lifetime. This rare occurance provides an opportunity to reflect on parallels, such as gratitute and the pursuit of religious freedom.
In order to mark this once-in-a-lifetime event, Spertus has put together a handy holiday guide, complete with local events, recipes, and gift ideas. Curious about how the Jewish calendar works? In the mood for holiday-hybrid sweet potato latkes? Looking for a Hanukkah concert for the whole family? You've come to the right place.
Enjoy this special Spertus Thanksgivukkah FAQ!
Why do Jewish holidays fall on different days every year?
Excellent question, and we'll do our best to explain without any complicated math. Jewish holidays aren't governed by the Western, or Gregorian, calendar used in the United States. That calendar, which originated in 1582, is based on the cycles of the sun. It is divided neatly into 12 months, with the completion of those months (and the Earth's rotation around the sun) equaling one full year. This pattern is relatively consistent, meaning that, except for the addition of a single day in leap years, the Gregorian calendar always has 365 days. The Jewish calendar is different. It's based on the cycles of the sun and the moon, which means the Jewish calendar year can have anywhere from 353 days to 385. Due to this discrepancy, Jewish holidays fall on different days in the Gregorian calendar.
I get it. Different calendars. But why won't the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah thing happen again in our lifetimes?
That's because the Jewish lunar calendar repeats itself on a 19 year cycle. Add in the fact that Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November, thus a different date each year, multiply the whole thing by the Gregorian leap year, and many algorithms later, you have roughly 75,000 years until the next Thanksgivukkah.
In that case, I should celebrate. Any ideas?
You bet. Here's the SPERTUS TOP 5 list of Chicago-area Thanksgivukkah activities:
- Jazz Up Your Hanukkah. Spertus Institute brings together two of Chicago’s leading musicians, jazz harmonica wiz Howard Levy and renowned cantor Alberto Mizrahi, for a concert on the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration combines the best of traditional Jewish melodies with jazz and world music, creating a spirited musical hybrid. Acclaimed ensemble Trio Globo provides the accompaniment. The last time Spertus brought Mizrahi and Levy together, the theater was filled to capacity, so get your tickets now >
- Arguably, the Most Intelligent Way to Celebrate. The Latke-Hamantash Debate has been a University of Chicago tradition since 1946. Faculty members apply the knowledge and tools of their disciplines in an evening of intellectual frivolity! This year's event took place November 26 (so if you're just reading this now, you missed it). But you can view last year's in its entirety >
- Feel the Groove. Matisyahu, known for blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock, and hip hop, will be performing Saturday, November 30, at Chicago's Park West. The concert is part of his Festival of Light tour >
- Liberty and Latkes. Depending on what fresh ingredients chef Cleetus Friedman gets from local farms, he'll be making a variety of latkes, including sunchoke, beet, sweet potato, celery root, apple and more, November 28–December 5 at his Ravenswood restaurant Fountainhead >
- Laugh 'Til You Plotz. You have to admit, there's some humor to Thanksgvivukkah. That's why you should head to the Royal George Theatre, where Old Jews Telling Jokes, the web-series turned Off-Broadway hit, is running through February 16. Get a little, give a little. Save $5 on tickets when you purchase by December 2 and use code SPERTUS when ordering. In addition, for each ticket purchased, $5 will be donated to Spertus. Limit 4 tickets per person. Valid for Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday evening performances through January 2. Call 312.988.9000 or visit Ticketmaster.com >
One final very important question: What do we eat?
To us, Thanksgivukkah is all about embracing the
cultural combination of American and Jewish traditions,
and there's no better place to do that than the kitchen.
How about pumpkin spice latkes or carrot ginger soup?
Here are some recipes to get you started >
From all of us at Spertus, best wishes for a happy Hanukkah and a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!