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Posted: 12:11 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013

Thanksgivukkah a meeting of two holidays

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Thanksgivukkah a meeting of two holidays photo
CURTIS COMPTON / AJC
Jennie Rivlin Roberts of ModernTribe looks over one of the Thanksgivukkah cards she is selling for the holiday from her home-based business. CURTIS COMPTON /staff CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
Thanksgivukkah a meeting of two holidays photo
CURTIS COMPTON / AJC
Owner Jennie Rivlin Roberts (from front to back) and employees Simon Chamberlain and Marsha Kerman pack and ship Thanksgivukkah products from her home-based business, ModernTribe. CURTIS COMPTON /staff CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

By Shelia Poole

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA —

Mashed potatoes, latkes or both?

Challah, biscuits and dressing in the same meal?

TaRessa Stovall’s mind swirls across cultures as she plans the Thanksgiving Day meal for her family.

The reason? This year — in a rare occurrence — Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 28, coincides with the start of the Jewish observance of Hanukkah, which is based on the lunar calendar. It always falls on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

There’s even a name coined for it — Thanksgivukkah.

“I think there’s spirit of fun in looking at ways to bring them together,” said Stovall, of Sandy Springs, Ga., who writes the blog “Black and Blewish.” Stovall’s mother was Jewish and her father was African-American. “It boils down to honoring your ancestors. What a fun way to bring Hanukkah food and maybe conversation and music into Thanksgiving.”

There’s a Facebook page devoted to the hybrid holiday. People are sharing recipes and ideas on Twitter.

Based on a number of factors, said Eric Goldstein, director of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, Hanukkah can fall on a wide range of dates.

“I don’t think it’s really a serious matter for anyone,” he said. “It’s being commented on in a funny way. Hanukkah observances usually consist of a brief home service that includes lighting candles and maybe singing a few songs. It’s a very easy observance to combine with Thanksgiving.”

Rabbi Brian Glusman, director of outreach at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, said “integrating the two makes a lot of sense.”

“Hanukkah is certainly seen as a family celebration,” he said, “and Thanksgiving is, too,”

The rare dual holidays have even spawned a line of Thanksgivukkah-related products.

Jennie Rivlin Roberts, the owner of ModernTribe, and Dana Gitell, have created Thanksgivukkah greeting cards, T-shirts and a tweaked poster based on the iconic painting “American Gothic” (dubbed “American Gothikkah”) in which the stoic farmer sports a beard, peyas and a shtreimel, a traditional fur hat worn by some Jewish men. ModernTribe also sells a Menurkey Menorah.

‘We’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by the response to Thanksgivukkah,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of excited energy that is coming from our customers, and it’s fueling us forward. It’s been fun for us.”

ModernTribe.com is an online Jewish gift shop and Judaica store that Roberts runs out of her Atlanta home. She expects Thanksgivukkah-related items to account for about half of the company’s overall sales for the year.

Chances are very good that you won’t have to worry much about what to do the next time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide.

According to one estimate, that won’t happen for 78,000 or so years.

So for now, Stovall, who is also communications director for Purpose Built Communities, is just having fun with menu possibilities.

“Maybe matzo balls and collard greens,” she said before pausing. “Although that would be really strange.”