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Thanksgiving and Hanukkah: Rare Convergence of 2 Holidays Has Families Buzzing with Celebration

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By Susan Selasky

Hanukkah_menorah(MCT)–This year, Paula Lynn is putting her traditional Hanukkah vacation on hold.

Instead of going away, the West Bloomfield, Mich., mother of two will celebrate the Jewish holiday at home — on Thanksgiving.

Like many American Jewish people, Lynn, 42, is looking forward to Nov. 28, when the two holidays coincide like this for the first time since 1888.

“Not only are my kids excited to be here during Hanukkah, but also because they are having latkes on Thanksgiving,” she says.

On Lynn’s Thanksgiving table, the traditional turkey and sweet potato casserole will share space with latkes, brisket and dreidel-shaped cookies.

Blending the holiday celebrations is “definitely an opportunity for more fun for all,” says Lynn, whose home is decorated with brown for Thanksgiving and blue for Hanukkah.

Rabbi Jason Miller of Farmington Hills, Mich., who is a part-time rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel in Sylvania, Ohio, and director of Kosher Michigan, says the holidays are a good fit with each other.

“You have the word ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’ and Hanukkah has become a holiday in which we give gifts,” says Miller, 37, who has a 9-year-old and 7-year-old twins.

This year, he says, he’ll “underscore the importance of what we have and reinforce to my kids that it’s more important to give than to get.”

“Another positive to this is removing the pairing of Hanukkah with Christmas, a holiday Jews don’t celebrate,” says Miller. “It makes the connection with Thanksgiving, a holiday they do celebrate.”

And, then, there is the convenience for those who must travel for both holidays.

“It’s always a fun thing to have everyone together,” says Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, “but this is a 2-for-1 holiday.”

But not everyone plans to blend their holiday celebrations.

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