8 Days of Thanksgiving!

This year, the first night of Chanukah coincides with the American holiday of Thanksgiving (L’hodos u’l’hallel). This is the only time the two holidays will ever coincide!

Here is why:

Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28. 11/28 is also the earliest date that Chanukah can occur. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 133 years (19×7). Looking back, this is approximately correct and the last time it would have happened was 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before.

Here’s why it won’t ever happen again:

The Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the Gregorian calendar — at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years. This means that while presently Chanukah can begin as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Chanukah can begin is 11/29. The next time Chanukah falls on 11/28 is in 2146, which is a Monday. Therefore, 2013 is the only time Chanukah will ever overlap with Thanksgiving.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Chanukah would again fall on Thursday, 11/28 in the year 79,811!

So on November 28th, 2013, enjoy your turkey and your latkes. It has never happened before, and it will never happen again.

Light Over Darkness

There are three holidays celebrated because of nissim and niflaos, the miracles and wonders performed by Hashem for the Jewish people: Chanukah, Purim and Pesach.In all three, we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness:

– On Chanukah, we say, "Haneros hallalu anu madlikim The Chanukah candles that we light…"

– On Purim, we say, "La’yehudim hay’so ohra… The Jews had light…"

– And, on Pesach, "L’chol B’nei Yisroel haya ohr b’moshvosam… All Jews had light in their dwellings…"