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November 27, 2013

Overlap with Thanksgiving prompts second look at Hanukkah

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The merger is prompting some Jews to give fewer or no Hanukkah gifts this year. Many others are doing the opposite, noting — like Finer — that because of Thanksgiving and the accompanying school vacation, they will be around many more relatives than usual on Hanukkah and want to include people who usually aren't on the gift list. Some are writing short narratives about the history of American Jews to be read at the Thanksgiving table as a complement to the secular holiday's place in U.S. history.

"This is happening once in a lifetime — the idea of Thanksgiving and being thankful for this country and what it's allowed American Jews to become. My grandparents came from the shtetl," a small, poor European village, said Larry Bram, an Easter Seals executive who lives in Silver Spring, Md. He has stocked up on Thanksgivukkah T-shirts, turkey hats with payis (the long curls) attached, a pumpkin version of the traditional Hanukkah doughnuts and a piñata for the children that looks like a bumblebee wearing a yarmulke. "This is a fun time, and we hope to be goofy and thankful simultaneously."

The holiday convergence has created a unique opportunity for marketers, who are labeling their gear "For final sale." Among the best-selling items has been the $50 menurkey, which was created by a fourth-grader in New York who got it going on Kickstarter.

Kristen Kreider, director of retail operations at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, said she had to hire extra staff to deal with the hundreds of boxes of menurkeys going out each day. Another popular item, she said, is a greeting card in which a turkey and an ancient Jewish warrior square off. The front says: "What did the turkey say to the Maccabee?" And inside: "You think you've got problems?"

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