The coincidence of Thanksgiving and Hanukah has resulted in much ink spilled about this unprecedented phenomenon. I connected the two holidays in one way in my article for the Jewish Exponent this week, which you can take a look at here. But I wanted to say something else about how the stories of Thanksgiving and Hanukah connect. In one way of telling their stories, both holidays are celebrations of religious freedom. The Pilgrims left their homes in England and came to America to find a place where they could worship freely in their way, a way that was outlawed in their native land. The Maccabees fought for the freedom to worship in their way against a governing power that had similarly outlawed their religious practices. However, following their successful struggles for religious freedom, neither group was exactly a model of religious tolerance toward others, and concerns about relig
ious freedom and equality for all religious groups continue in America today and around the world. It would be wonderful if this once-in-a-lifetime overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukah could focus our attention on our obligation to ensure religious freedom – not just for ourselves, but for all whose religious
practices differ from our own. May the light of that message continue to shine for us during this Festival of Lights.