The celebration of Hanukkah always begins on the same day on the Hebrew calendar, but here, it rarely falls on the same date year to year, and this year it falls so early, it coincides with Thanksgiving. To understand this anomaly of Thanksgivukkah, you have to understand the calendar.
"We follow what's known as the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the sun. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar . The Jewish calendar is a hybrid of lunar and solar," said Hal Lewis, president, CEO of Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership .
Historians say the last time this happened was 1888, and it won't happen again for another 78,000!
The gift shop at the Spertus Institute has been preparing for Thanksgivukkah for months, with clever products and advice.
"Have fun with it! t's happening once in our lifetime. It will never happen again, not for generations to follow, so mix up your recipes a little bit," said Jill Sevelow, buyer, manager at Spertus Shop.
There are plenty of cookbooks to help you mix it up and overlap your recipes for Thanksgivukkah - challah bread stuffing, sweet potato latkes. The list is endless.
"I'm gonna cook everything with a little extra manischewitz. I'm gonna brine my turkey in manischewitz, I'm gonna add some to my mashed potatoes and make mashed potato latkes!" comedienne Patti Vasquez said.
The cast from Old Jews Telling Jokes gobbled up the opportunity for a little Thanksgivukkah schtick!
"An old Jewish man takes his family out to a restaurant to celebrate Thanksgivukkah. He walks up to the maître d' and says, 'Pardon me, but how do you prepare your turkeys?' And the maitre d' says, 'We tell 'em right up front, they ain't gonna make it!'" said the show's Gene Weygandt.
"I'm grateful for everyday, of course, when you get to be in my stage, in the game, you are grateful for every day! I'm glad i wake up in the morning!" said Renee Matthews, also of Old Jews Telling Jokes.
While the show won't be performing on Thanksgiving day, it has been extended through February 16th. Might make a fun Hanukkah gift!!
There are several websites where you can order special Thanksgivukkah items, and or check out some recipe ideas. Be creative. There's no right or wrong. It's once in our lifetime.
More RECIPES From the Spertus Institute:
What to do and what to eat
This year, for the first time in over 100 years and the only time in our lifetimes, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah and the American holiday of Thanksgiving coincide, with Hanukkah beginning at sundown on November 27 and Thanksgiving falling on November 28.
Courtesy of Chicago's Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, here are some recipes to answer the first question on everyone's mind: What do you eat on Thanksgivukkah? (Answer: seasonal foods that blend Jewish and American traditions.)
Then see below for some suggestions of things to do in Chicago to mark the occasion.
PUMPKIN SPICE LATKES
This first recipe blends the pumpkin spice of Thanksgiving with the Hanukkah potato pancake called a latke. (Latkes are potato pancakes traditionally eaten during Hanukkah. Because the holiday commemorates a miracle of one day's worth of sacred-lamp-lighting oil lasting eight nights, Hanukkah menus include treats fried in oil.)
This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Laura Frankel, executive chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and a passionate teacher of kosher cooking. She is the author of Jewish Cooking For All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes . Earlier this year she was recognized as a culinary innovator at Kosherfest in New York.
Part 1 – Chef Laura's Classic Latke Recipe
2 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled, shredded, and put in a large bowl with ice water so they won't oxidize or turn colors
Neutrally flavored oil for frying (Chef Laura prefers canola)
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and grated
3 egg whites, beaten with a whisk until frothy
3-6 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- Place the shredded potatoes in a large clean towel and squeeze out all the moisture; make sure the potatoes are completely dry.
- Place all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and add the potatoes. Mix together until thoroughly combined.
- Heat a large skillet with 1-½ inches of oil. Drop spoonfuls of latke batter into the oil.
- Flatten each latke slightly with the back of a spoon. Fry on each side until brown.
- Remove to a platter lined with paper towels.
TIP: If you want to make in advance, you can reheat the latkes on a cookie sheet and in a 400 degree oven.
Part 2 – Pumpkin Spice Variation
To the basic recipe add
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ additional flour
Proceed exactly as in the basic latke recipe.
CARROT GINGER SOUP
From Cooking from the Heart: A Jewish Journey Through Food by Hayley Smorgon and Gaye Weeden
2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ brown onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons Moroccan spice mix plus extra to garnish
8 cups vegetable stock
16-20 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
2 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion until slightly golden. Add the garlic and ground spices and fry for 1 minute.
- Pour in the stock, then add the carrots and cinnamon stick.
- Bring the soup to a boil, add the honey and lemon juice, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
- Allow the soup to cool slightly, then puree with a hand-held blender until silky smooth.
- Season to taste with the powdered stock if using, or some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with sprinkle of Moroccan spice and a drizzle of olive oil.
From Cooking Inspired: Bringing Creativity and Passion Back into the Kitchen by Estee Kafra
Makes 12 servings
Demo available at www.kosherscoop.com/video
1 brisket or brick roast (about 3-4 lb)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 onions, sliced
2 sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 cup red baby potatoes, cut in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread the Dijon mustard over the sides and top of the roast.
- Arrange the onions on the bottom of a Dutch oven. Top with the sweet and baby potatoes. Place the meat on the top of the potatoes.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the meat and potatoes. Stir together the maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the meat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 ½ hours. Let cool. Chill overnight. Slice the meat, return to the pot with the vegetables. Reheat in a 250 degree oven until warmed through.
QUINOA CAKE "LATKES"
From The Prime Grill Cookbook: Redefining the Kosher Experience by David Kolotikin and Joey Allaham
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil plus oil for frying
¼ cup onion, small dice
2/3 cup quinoa
1 and 1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 pinch
¾ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons soy milk
Salt to taste
- In a heavy gauge saucepan, preferably stainless steel, warm two tablespoons of oil and sweat the onions until soft and translucent.
- Add the quinoa and stir for a few seconds to coat all the grains with oil.
- Add the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a dry mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and one tablespoon of kosher salt and mix well.
- Add the egg and the soy milk and mix until all ingredients are fully combined.
- Add two cups of the cooked quinoa and mix.
- Heat two to three tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, spoon batter into small pancakes (about the size of your fist) and fry for 30-60 seconds on each side, or until golden brown.
All cookbooks mentioned here available from the Spertus Shop at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.
A COUPLE OF WAYS TO CELEBRATE THANKGIVUKKAH IN CHICAGOLAND
Thanksgivukkah is nothing if not humorous, so now's your chance to laugh 'til you plotz with the cast of Old Jews Telling Jokes, the web-series turned Off-Broadway hit currently running at the Royal George Theatre. Visit www.oldjewstellingjokesonstage.com/home or call 312.988.9000 to purchase tickets.
See Hanukkah off in style with Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration at Spertus Institute. Featuring jazz harmonica player Howard Levy and internationally renowned cantor Alberto Mizrahi, Matzah to Menorah promises to be a holiday concert unlike any other. Combining traditional Jewish music with jazz and world music, Levy and Mizrahi, together with the ensemble Trio Globo, will play a variety of Hanukkah classics and new compositions. Sunday, December 5 at 7 pm. Visit www.spertus.edu/jazz or call 312.322.1773 to purchase tickets. Celebrate liberty and latkes at Fountainhead in Ravenswood. Depending on what fresh ingredients chef Cleetus Friedman can get from farms, he'll be making a variety of latkes, including sunchoke, beet, sweet potato, celery root, apple and more. Visit fountainheadchicago.com or call 773.697.8204 to learn more. November 28–December 5. Enjoy some spirited, well-researched, and always funny opinions at the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamantash Debate. As usual, the event will include a post-debate reception in Hutchinson Commons where you can taste latkes and hamantashen and decide for yourself! The event is free, but attendance typically soars above 1,000 so come early for good seats! Tuesday, November 26 at 7:30 pm. Visit latke.uchicago.edu/ for more information.