Giving Thanks on Chanukah

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WILKES-BARRE -- It hasn't happened in about 100 years, and it won't happen again for more than 70,000 years. Thanksgiving and the Jewish holiday Chanukah overlap this week.

When you walk through the doors of the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre, you'll notice quite a mix of holiday decorations. There are  pilgrims and pumpkins hanging from the ceiling and Menorah in the display case.

It's not too early to celebrate the Festival of Lights. This year the Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlap, and it is rare. Just ask Mimi Ross of Kingston.

"I never remembered we ever had it before. So we didn't. And I'm pretty old, so I'd know," said Mimi Ross, of Kingston.

So why is this happening? The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, unlike the solar calendar we follow. Our solar calendar has 365 and a quarter days each year. We make up the difference by adding a day to the calendar every four years.

But the lunar calendar is only 354 days. So every few years, they add an entire month. This year, Chanukah was pushed up earlier than normal. Rabbi Roger Lerner says the two holidays compliment each other and should mesh well.

"We are grateful for what we have. Chanukah celebrates the freedom from religious persecution, not too different from what Thanksgiving is," said Rabbi Roger Lerner.

To honor the special holiday now coined "Thanksgivukah," some people have invented new things like a Menurkey, a menorah shaped like a turkey.

There are also dozens of recipes online, merging traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey and mashed potatoes with Chanukah dishes like latkes and kugel.

"They're two different kinds of holidays, but it's very unusual and the fact is it brings families together," said Robert Capin, of Kingston.

"And that's what it's all about, right?" a Newswatch 16 reporter asked.

"That's what it's all about," said Capin.

To celebrate both, the JCC here will have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at 2pm with a menorah lighting ceremony to follow.