At this point, it is tough to live in America and not know that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same night this year. It is also tough to not know that this doesn’t usually happen. That popular wisdom has it we’ve got another 70,000 years to go before this comes up again. (Apparently popular wisdom is wrong.)
But a year ago, it wasn’t a cultural reference point. It was just an oddity Dana Reichman Gitell, a marketing specialist at Hebrew Senior Life in Massachusetts, had noticed on the calendar.
She was driving to work in November 2012, thinking about how a year from then, this was going to be big deal. That it would become a part of pop culture, but also that there would be a more serious aspect to it.
“Really in my heart, even at that early stage,” Reichman Gitell said, “I thought this is also an incredible opportunity to celebrate the Jewish-American experience… To show our gratitude for America for being one of the best places to be Jewish in this world outside of Israel.”
She started pushing words and sounds together and before long had blended the holidays into one term: Thanksgivukkah. She started a Facebook page celebrating the event, then a Twitter feed and a website. Soon, her sister-in-law, Deborah Gitell, joined the project.
At first it was a way to have fun. A place where Reichman Gitell would post things like her picture of Charlie Brown with side curls celebrating a Charlie Brown Thanksgivukkah.
But the followers and likes started to mount and Dana and Deborah quickly realized they had something significant: A fan base represented a chance to sell merchandise, and selling merchandise meant a chance to raise money for charity.
“We also thought it seems like there should be a retail element to this. Hanukkah’s a gift-giving holiday and in America buying things is how we celebrate,” Reichman Gitell said.
This is just too, too crass. Sorry ladies, you and your marketing blitz just suck. Great way to validate the stereotype of Teh Greedy Juice.