The Shmooze

The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah

By JTA

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When Rabbi David Paskin, a congregational rabbi outside of Boston and the co-head of Kehillat Schechter Academy, heard that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah would fall on the same day this year, he knew it was a chance for families to have fun. But he also saw it as a moment to shine a light on the value of religious freedom that is at the core of both holidays.

So, the singing rabbi composed a song to help celebrate and educate. Late last week, he posted a music video of the lighthearted rhyming number that follows him and a few other troubadours racing through the stairwells of his school singing out with all the kids about latkes, cranberries, Pilgrims, Native Americans, dreidels and the Hasmonean dynasty.

“It’s only in America, where we have this religious freedom, we can shout out loud about this moment in time,” Paskin tells JTA. Thanksgivukkah, as the confluence of the two holidays has now been dubbed, last occurred in 1888 and may not happen again for 79,043 years. Everyone from Stephen Colbert to Buzzfeed seems to have something to say about the unique happening.

It all strikes a personal chord for Paskin, who says he’s reminded of a teaching from Abraham Joshua Heschel to look at the world with radical amazement. “These holidays are celebrations of tremendous blessings we’ve been given and gifts we’ve received from God,” he says. “If I put on my secular hat, they’re gifts from our country and from each and every person.”

“This is yet another opportunity to look beyond what divides us, and be grateful for what unites us. If ever two holidays that are about this, it’s Chanukah and Thanksgiving.”

(The lyrics to “The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah,” can be found here.)

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