Friends and strangers alike have often questioned my obsession with Judaism with a skeptical “Are you even Jewish?” The answer is technically no, but I like to consider myself culturally Jewish. While I am not religious, I am a big fan of latkes, Yiddish, and The Promised Land (we’ll save my opinions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for another day…). My mental calendar isn’t organized by months and dates, but by holidays, so I love any excuse to celebrate a new one! Even though I can hardly contain my excitement for Thanksgiving tomorrow, Hanukkah starts today! This cultural collision of holidays is going to make for an epic end to November. Here are a few of my favorite finds to get you into the Hanukkah spirit! Dreidel on!
1) What is Thanksgivukkah? Just like Seth Cohen (my Jewish dream man) invented Chrismukkah, this year Thanksgiving-Hanukkah enthusiasts have invented Thanksgivukkah. This extremely interesting article sheds light on this once-in-a-lifetime holiday mash up. Impress your family and friends with fun facts about the holiday – like how Boston Mayor Menino has declared it an official holiday. It’s a much better topic of conversation than countless aunts asking if you’re engaged, yet!
2) Challah Bread is the New Latke. If you’ve ever attended a Shabbot dinner, you know of the glory of challah. While I’m automatically a fan of anything that involves carbs, challah is a light and fluffy bread with a beautifully woven texture. Even if you’re ovo-vegan, you can enjoy this treat as it is “parve” or made without meat or dairy – but lots and lots of eggs! This guide teaches you how to perfect the braid so your challah looks delicious and not schlepped together!
3) Stick to Yiddish. Everyone loves those word magnets that appear everywhere from high school lockers to family refrigerators. Discovering an uplifting or perverse combination of words that your friend left behind can make a morning a bit less groggy. There seems to be several collections of words from Shakespearean to slang, but now there is Yiddish! But what’s the difference between Yiddish and Hebrew? Yiddish has always been a spoken combination of Hebrew, German, and other European languages. Hebrew was only a written language from 200AD until the 1800’s when it was revived verbally. You probably don’t even know you speak Yiddish. The phrase “Don’t be a klutz and put a glitch in the system” uses two Yiddish words!
4) Real Men Make Latkes. The quintessential Hanukkah food has made its way onto clothing and I couldn’t be more thankful. Whether you like them made with sweet potatoes or topped with applesauce, there is no wrong way to eat a latke. This Thanksgivukkah, you can chow down on some cranberry-topped latkes while wearing this gem of a shirt. Maybe you’ll find your mentsh.
5) Celebrate with a Womenorah. Instead of welding together an authentic menorah to hold your Hanukkah candles, get crafty and make your own! There are so many cute options that are perfect for adding a bit of Hanukkah cheer to your home. One bit of advice – make the tree-branch menorah with caution! Last year I left mine unattended in a room and the candles caught the wood on fire. It makes for a great story now, but it definitely put a damper on the ongoing Christmas party!
Just as religion and sexuality are finally reaching a point of mutual acceptance, I can’t wait for the day when all religions can coexist in a household. After all, don’t all religions preach love and acceptance? Start the movement this week by celebrating Thanksgivukkah! With all of these cute holiday ideas, what’s your excuse not to?