Big Chickens for Chanukah

one night one candle Chanukah
First night of Chanukah: My father’s chanukiah – I had the shamash fixed earlier this fall

Last night was the first night of Chanukah. This business of having Chanukah and Thanksgiving together is a bit much for me. I’m glad it’s not happening again soon, although my husband suggested that if it was agreed to “fix” the Jewish calendar, who knows. I don’t predict a lot of agreeing among Jews.

I did buy a turkey, and I will bake it later today. However, the main thing on the agenda is buying Chinese. Perhaps some of you have heard that Jews traditionally (at least in the U.S.) eat Chinese food on Christmas. Well, in our family we have this tradition for Thanksgiving. Shocking, I know. My children have school on Christmas (the two in Jewish day school – the eldest has off, as he is in college), so they will be eating their usual bagged lunches. We buy the Chinese food from this wonderful kosher restaurant in Manville, New Jersey called Lin’s. Highly recommend the place. Soup is made with a chicken. Vegetables have crunch. Tasty chicken wings. My kids like the wonton soup. You can order brown rice.

The best line I heard recently was from a friend who lives in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Beit Shemesh is home to many Anglo Israelis – meaning, people whose native tongue is English. Many are originally Americans, but other countries speak English as well (say, for example, England). Overheard in the supermarket, a little girl with a British accent said:

Eema, why are all these people buying big chickens?

If you are celebrating a holiday or two, have a good one.

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11 thoughts on “Big Chickens for Chanukah

  • Enjoy your Chinese food from Lin’s! I agree about it being too much. I’ve been so busy cooking for two different Chanukah parties and for Shabbos that I actually served leftover pizza for lunch. I wasn’t as efficient today as I had hoped. We will have the Thanksgiving type food for Shabbos, I guess. The advantage of the overlap is that everyone is home for the first half of Chanukah.

    That is very funny about the big chickens. I thought turkey was available in parts in Israel, but not whole.

    • Maybe they just do the whole at this time of year, and only in places where Americans live. Someone I know in Israel (when she was single) used to host two Thanksgiving meals, because she knew so many people to invite.

      I made kugel this morning for Shabbat (I usually make it on Thursday night), so my kids had kugel for lunch. I also made mushroom barley soup.

      Yes, it is nice to have family home on Chanukah, especially my eldest.

  • It is a bit overwhelming to have both occur at the same time. Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, on their own is enough.

    I love the idea of Chinese food for TG! We usually do pizza the night before TG.

    • In Highland Park, pizza is pretty popular for Thursday nights, when many women cook for Shabbat. A year or two ago I started doing homemade potato kugels as Thursday night meal. It’s a fair amount of work, but it makes my family happy.

      Last year we went to the Chinese restaurant on Thanksgiving, and my daughter was disappointed. So this year we did take out and combined the two (a homemade turkey + Chinese, mostly the appetizers for the kids, like beef sticks and wonton soup).

    • I don’t think the issue was the work … I didn’t work very hard for Thanksgiving. It was more the emotional problem – I like them separated. Should one put more emphasis on Chanukah or on Thanksgiving – that is up to each individual and individual family. But it did make for interesting drashas (a drasha is a talk of Jewish nature, for example, in this case comparing Chanukah and Thanksgiving).

      • Thanksgiving was not a big deal in our house until I started doing it and then I stopped and it kind of stopped, but with the siblings out of state, it won’t be like the old days.. but of course my definition of work includes the emotional expenditure that tires me out… Another word to add to my vocabulary and I had not heard it before..sadly…

      • I visited your website for the first time today to see what you had to say about Jewish celebration, but got temporarily distracted by the bird pictures…oh, well, I wanted to chime in on the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah phenomenon, if it’s not too late.
        I’m a member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and we have an online forum where anything is discussed. Many of our members who have pulpits were looking for ways to link TG and Hanukkah, with very little success. The best anyone could do (besides lament that it wasn’t Sukkot that coincided with TG!) was to find similarities between the Puritans and the Maccabees — and, believe me, that wasn’t pretty!

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