Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving this year — a phenomenon that hasn't occurred in 125 years. The two holidays have common roots in religious freedom: Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple after the Jews vanquished their Syrian oppressors; Thanksgiving commemorates a feast among the Wampanoag and the Puritans who'd traveled to the New World to worship freely. Speaking of feasts, this year's coincidence should yield some tasty spreads (latkes with cranberry sauce, anyone?). We talked with several people — including Dean Bell, chief academic officer for the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership; Jill Sevelow, manager of the Spertus Shop; and Stacey Zaleski, director of merchandising at The Jewish Museum — to compile a “Thanksgivukkah” booklist.
— Printers Row Journal editors
This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.
The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America by Steven M. Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen The authors, two of the most important scholars of contemporary Jewish life, use extensive research including personal interviews to explore the beliefs and behaviors of Jews in America. Paralleling findings in broader discussions of religion in America, they note the freedom, personal nature and multiple ways of expressing contemporary American Jewish identity.
"American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance" by Peter Gottschalk
The book opens with the 1660 hanging of Mary Dyer, who was executed for being a Quaker. Gottschalk chronicles America's lapses in religious tolerance — shameful periods that deprived followers of a number of faiths — and concludes with a chapter that impels Americans to do better. "Living up to one's own ideals is always a perilous process, but one can't start without first accepting the ways in which one has not done so."
"Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built" by Mark Russ Federman
This book hits it all (and hits it well): family, tradition, food (lox!), Jewish identity, the great, triumphant immigrant story and the unfolding of a family history through multiple generations. Russ & Daughters appetizing shop is a New York institution, and this book tells the story of this family's culinary dynasty through an irresistible combo of recipes and anecdotes.
"Cooking from the Heart: A Jewish Journey Through Food" by Hayley Smorgon and Gaye Weeden
Jewish families come together around food, using cooking and eating to celebrate holidays and give thanks. This book draws on this tradition, combining the love of cherished foods handed down through generations with the heart and soul of what it means to gather as a family.
"American Pastoral" by Philip Roth
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel exploring the tension at the core of the American experience between assimilation and individualism, Roth writes Thanksgiving is a "moratorium on all the grievances and resentments ... for everyone in America who is suspicious of everyone else. It is the American pastoral par excellence and it lasts twenty-four hours."Copyright © 2015, CT Now