Over 250 young professional and 50 lone soldiers Olim celebrated “Thanksgivukkah” at a festive event organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and White City Shabbat. Revellers celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime double holiday of Chanukkah and Thanksgiving at the landmark Goren Synagogue in Tel Aviv with a three course meal replete with traditional holiday foods including latkes and turkey. After the meal, Tel Aviv’s deputy mayor Asaf Zamir led the Chanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. As a gesture of showing thanks and in order to promote acts of kindness towards those less fortunate, dinner guests brought lightly worn clothes for the event’s clothing drive.
White City Shabbat is a volunteer-run portal for Jewish life in Tel Aviv that hosts a range of intercommunity events, including its hugely successful monthly Shabbat meals. As a native Brit, Deborah Danan doesn’t feel that Thanksgivukkah is exclusive for Americans. “The theme of thanksgiving is anyway inherent to the festival of Chanukkah which all Jews celebrate,” said Danan, who co-directs White City Shabbat together with Eytan White, “And of course, as our tagline states, ‘you don’t have to be American to give thanks!’ People from a broad spectrum of nationalities are coming together to show their gratitude for being able to celebrate this unique holiday in Israel.”
“Holidays like Thanksgiving without a family can be a nightmare – especially if you’re in a foreign country. If it wasn’t for this event, I’d be off somewhere in an army base in the desert, or cooped up in a tiny dimly lit Tel Aviv apartment. But tonight we have the opportunity to feel like we’re not bereft of family.” Josh Levy, 25, IDF lone soldier from Boca Raton, Florida.
This event was also sponsored by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Israel, JNF and the FIDF as a part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s ongoing social events for its Olim and Lone Soldiers.