It’s T-minus nine months to our aliyah. Only nine months to gestate my metamorphosis from polite, Target-shopping, network-TV-watching American Jewish soccer mom (I heart you, Japanese 8-seater mini-van!) into a more resilient, less materialistic, pushier, louder and prouder American-Israeli.
For my Southern California family, this move is BIG. We’re uprooting our five happy kids from teen to preschooler, and we are trying to plan our aliyah meticulously. These days and nights, while we have real estate agents drumming up houses back in the holy land and my husband talks to Israeli mortgage brokers and banks at odd hours, I scour the internet for pictures of our future home-town, memorize entire sections of the Nefesh B’Nefesh website like they are passages from the mishna, stalk Facebook groups dedicated to new olim, and pitifully practice my paltry Hebrew with a feeble Israeli accent while my children shake their heads in dismay.
As part of our “israelification,” my husband and I are embarking on a pilot trip this winter, sans kids, to see what’s happening on the ground. We will look at houses, scrutinize schools, investigate cars (okay, we might import the aforementioned beloved 8-seater Japanese mini-van; don’t judge!), and do all the things wannabe olim are supposed to do.
But on this trip, we will also get to do something more: We will get to celebrate ThanksgivukkAliyah.
What is ThanksgivukkAliyah?
Well, it starts with the fact that we will be on our pilot trip when the weird and wonderful once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Thanksgiving and Channukah occurs. The last time draidels and horns-o’-plenty intersected was during the Chai-givukkah of 1888, and chances are good that Moshiach will come way before the next.
Alas, our children will be back in America celebrating their farewell American Thanksgiving and Channukah with family and friends. (If I’m being completely honest, while I experience tremors of guilt for leaving them over these holidays, I can barely contain my glee at “having” to miss the so-called Channukah Extravaganza their day school puts on each year. But please don’t tell my kids.)
While we only chose this particular time to go because my husband has a conference to attend in Israel that week, I suppose it’s fitting that we will be in our homeland for this ultimate union of American-Jewish life, this comet-like festival that has been widely dubbed “Thanksgivukkah.”
These past weeks, the internet has been inundated with all things Thanksgivukkah, from funny late-night talk show YouTube clips to Pinterest pictures of perfect Thanksgivukkah table settings. And of course there are myriad hybrid Thanksgiving/Channukah recipes to entice the palate. Personally, I am hoping someone will concoct a “turducktke”, turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with latke — and deep fried, of course.
We will actually be landing in Israel on Thanksgivukkah itself. We have already been invited to celebrate this double chag with our cousins who made aliyah years back and will also be joined by my brother and his family, new olim themselves. Together, we will thank G-d for America, the country that gave sanctuary to our grandparents who survived pogroms and the Shoah to build new lives. We will faithfully light the menorah to commemorate the miracles of the Macabees’ triumph and the oil that lasted well beyond reasonable expectation, much like our own Jewish people.
But my husband and I will celebrate something extra, something beyond a mere Thanksgivukkah. We will also add thanks for the messy miracle of modern aliyah, and that we will get to take our children from the Land of the Pilgrims to the Land of the Maccabees, honoring our pasts and embracing our future.
So I can’t wait to land in Israel and to revel in ThanksgivukkAliyah, the dovetailing of our American selves with our future Israeli ones. I’m determined to vanquish jetlag and turkey-coma to stay up and enjoy every minute.
And I think may even ask my cousin to add some falafel to the latke stuffing and to stick Israeli flags in cranberry jelly donuts in celebration of our magnificent triple simcha, ThanksgivukkAliyah.