You’ve heard of Turducken, which is a deboned Turkey stuffed with a deboned duck, which is stuffed with a deboned chicken. This year, on Thanksgiving, which is also the first day of Chanukah, we have the opportunity to have a new stuffed turkey delicacy, which I call TurLatke. TurLatke is a turkey stuffed with Latkes! Yum!!
I actually don’t know if this will work. I have yet to attempt to cook this gastronomic chimera for myself (mostly because I have this sense of loyalty to the foods of our holidays. For example, I feel that I should only cook latkes during Chanukah, much in the same way I feel I should only eat matza during Passover.) Yet, based on my years of cooking experience, I feel safe to recommend that if you attempt to make TurLatke that you fry the latkes first, before stuffing them in the turkey.
I am actually planning on making TurLatke for my family (albeit on the night before Thanksgiving. For one, Wednesday November 27th is the first night of Chanukah, and secondly, I am having Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house on Thursday and she is making her own Turkey.) If you do decide to try to make this dish, I would love to know how it goes.
In all seriousness, there is actually a real connection between Chanukah and Thanksgiving – the holiday of Sukkot. You may be familiar with idea that when the Pilgrims wanted to celebrate their religious freedom they turned to the Bible and they modeled their Thanksgiving feast on the biblical holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot refers to the Autumn harvest, a feast where we are to invite others to join us, and a time of being thankful.
And, believe it or not, Chanukah is also modeled after Sukkot.
This requires a little more explanation. The story of Chanukah begins when the Assyrian Greeks desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem in about the year 167 B.C.E. Among the many ways this had an impact on the Jewish people was that it prohibited the Jews from being able to celebrate the holidays properly. The Jews fought for their freedom and with the help of the Maccabees, prevailed in an incredibly victory. Immediately, the Jewish community went to work cleaning up the Temple in order to properly worship God. Considering that the Holiday of Sukkot had just recently passed – it is very likely that the priests decided to celebrate Sukkot – albeit a little late. (There is precedent in the Torah for celebrating a holiday after is has passed if ones were unable to celebrate it. Specifically, the Torah refers to a second Passover in Number 9:6.) This makes a lot of sense. Sukkot is the only eight-day holiday mentioned in the Torah. Chanukah is also an eight-day holiday. In other words, it is possible that it was crucial that the oil last 8 days in order to properly celebrate Sukkot. The idea that this miracle happened created this new celebration called Chanukah. Another connection is that both holidays celebrate in a way that is meant to publically show one of God’s miracles (the sukkah, which is built outside of our homes, publicizes the miracle of God freeing the Jews from Egyptian slavery. The Chanukah menorah, which is to placed in a street-facing window, publicizes God’s miracle of the oil lasting 8 days.)
In the end, I guess you can say that the calendrical concurrence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving is not so new. Chanukah and Thanksgiving both have a common ancestor – Sukkot. And, who knows, maybe the Turlatke has already been invented. Either way, I hope this years fourth Thursday in November is a joyous and delicious one for you and your family. Shalom