US President Barack Obama commented on the extremely rare confluence of Thanksgiving an Hanukkah in a holiday greeting released Wednesday, on the first night of Hanukkah.
“For the first time since the late 1800s–and for the last time until some 70,000 years from now–the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving,” the statement read. “It’s an event so rare some have even coined it ‘Thanksgivukkah.'”
“As we gather with loved ones around the turkey, the menorah, or both, we celebrate some fortunate timing and give thanks for miracles both great and small,” he continued.
The president connected the stories of the Pilgrims and the Maccabees of Hanukkah story, writing, “Like the Pilgrims, the Maccabees at the center of the Hanukkah story made tremendous sacrifices so they could practice their religion in peace… In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, they reclaimed their historic homeland.”
“As the first Hanukkah candle is lit, we are reminded that our task is not only to secure the blessing of freedom, but to make the most of that blessing once it is secure,” Obama wrote.
“In that spirit Michelle and I look forward to joining members of the Jewish community in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world as we work together to build a future that is bright and full of hope,” he concluded. “From my family to yours, chag sameach.”
On Wednesday night, around 300 people gathered in the rain in front of the White House to light a 30-foot gold menorah which has been called the “national menorah.” The event was organized by American Friends of Lubavitch, and featured music by Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari, and the US Air Force Band.