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Celebrating Thanksgivukkah

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- It hasn't happened for more than 100 years -- the first day of Hanukkah this year coincides with Thanksgiving.

And while some say it won't happen again for another 70,000 to 80,000 years, Iowa City Chabad Rabbi Avremel Blesofsky said it's a time to celebrate the things we have right now.

"In Judaism, nothing is coincidental. So, everything is divinely orchestrated," Blesofsky said.

And so, Blesofsky said, maybe "Thanksgivukkah" -- as it's been termed -- is a miracle, too.

The messaging of the two holidays isn't so different, he said. Hanukkah celebrates a small group of Jews overcoming a bigger Greek army, with one day's worth of oil burning for an entire eight days. Thanksgiving celebrates a relatively miraculous harvest, and both share the theme of escaping religious persecution.

"That Hanukkah is a celebration of community, a celebration of freedom, we could argue, and I think with some validity, that Hanukkah is more like Thanksgiving than it is like Christmas," said Shulman Hillel Executive Director Gerald Sorokin.

And maybe that coincidence acts a doubly strong reminder -- to not take the things that we have for granted, Blesofsky said.

"So it gives us a reminder, you know, in this fast-paced world that we're living in: let's take a step back and focus on that there is thanks to be given, and nothing just happens randomly," he said.

It's something to think about during this Thanksgivukkah season, which shouldn't be celebrated without a little dose of skepticism, of course.

"I suspect though, next year, when Hanukkah moves back to late December, much of this will be lost and we'll be back to hearing about how Hanukkah is Christmas for the Jews," Sorokin said.

Chabad will be hosting a public menorah lighting on the Ped Mall in Iowa City on Monday at 5:30 p.m. and at the Coral Ridge Mall from 5 to 7 p.m., with a party following in the Community Room immediately after.
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