Next week, as most of you know, features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving on November 28 (meaning the first eve of Hanukkah is actually the night before Thanksgiving). It turns out that it has never happened before...and it will (essentially) never happen again.
Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest date it can fall is November 28, which is also the earliest date Hanukkah can occur.
The Jewish (lunar) calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 133 years (19 x 7). Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established as a national holiday by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before!
Why won't “Thanksgivukkah” ever happen again?
The reason is because the lunar calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many-centuries-old calendar!). This means that while presently Hanukkah can occur as early as November 28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest that Hanukkah can occur is November 29. The last time Hanukkah will fall on November 28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday). Therefore, 2013 is the only year Hanukkah will “ever” overlap with Thanksgiving.
Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar until it loops all the way back to where it is now and Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, November 28...in the year 79811.
So, looking ahead, what will our Jewish community look like 77,798 years from today? Or, let’s even look a little closer – in 2023? Much of this depends on what we do today.
The Oregon Jewish Community Foundation (OJCF), in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, has brought to our community an incredible and important opportunity – the Life and Legacy program. Life and Legacy promotes after-lifetime giving to benefit our local Jewish community, including synagogues, day schools, social service organizations, the Jewish Federation and other entities. Legacy gifts can include a bequest in your will, gift of life insurance or your IRA, or a variety of other planned giving vehicles. The program is training and incentivizing Jewish organizations to integrate legacy giving into their philanthropic culture in order to assure Jewish tomorrows. In fact, earlier this week close to thirty community leaders came together for an excellent workshop.
The Life and Legacy program is a collaborative effort of the following area agencies and synagogues: Cedar Sinai Park, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Neveh Shalom, Congregation Shaarie Torah, Jewish Family and Child Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, Portland Jewish Academy, Temple Beth Israel (Eugene), and the OJCF. These organizations are the initial cohort in the Life and Legacy program. Leaving a legacy, however, is not limited to supporting only these organizations.
The program is focused on assuring that the traditions, programs, and institutions that mean so much to you today will exist for future generations. I know, many people will say this is not for me – I may not have the financial resources to participate. One of the beauties of this program is that it is for EVERYONE. It is a “philanthropic equalizer” where everyone can do his/her own part to guarantee a bright future. Your legacy gift(s) can be structured to fit your dreams, lifestyle, family and financial needs. Your financial advisor and the talented team at the OJCF are ready to assist you in your planning.
The Life and Legacy program is about YOU – your passions and interests in Jewish life. You have done so much for so many years – why not continue that generosity into the future? Representatives from Jewish organizations may contact you – or why not be proactive and contact one of the participating organizations or the OJCF office at 503-248-9328.
How can we assure Jewish tomorrows in 2014, 2023, and even 79811? – By leaving a legacy today. Thank you to the OJCF leadership and Harold Grinspoon Foundation for their foresight in bringing this opportunity to Portland.
Finally, you should have received an email about our community’s new GrapeVine program. Over the past week over 20,000 emails have been sent inviting people to participate. I want to emphasize that your privacy is protected and your information is not being shared with a third party. GrapeVine is a wonderful tool for our Jewish community to spread the word of all the incredible Jewish programs and opportunities going on. If you have yet to do so, sign in, create your interest profile, download the app, and begin to enjoy all that our Jewish community has to offer.
My best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Hanukkah and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I, too, will enjoy the holidays and there will be no Marc’s Remarks next week.
PS – Thank you to those of you who made donations to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund. Here is an update of the work already taking place.