Jewish Parents Institute celebrates ‘Thanksgivukkah’

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 12, 2013

WEST BLOOMFIELD — For nearly 60 years, the Jewish Parents Institute has hosted its community-wide Chanukah Family Celebration. This year, for the first time in 125 years, the beginning of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, allowing the institute to combine the two holidays for the mega “Thanksgivukkah” celebration Nov. 24 at the Teen Center in the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center.

The event, which takes place 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m., is free and open to the public. Guests are asked to bring pennies to donate for the Tzedakah Fair, which the sixth-grade students attend, and one kosher food item to donate to Yad Ezra, said Marilyn Wolfe, educational director of the institute.

“Our parents suggested, because Hanukkah is in conjunction with Thanksgiving, that we have some other things that we’ll be offering besides bagels and cream cheese — for instance, salad and pumpkin pie. I think what’s delightful is that our parents are really involved,” Wolfe said.

In the past, the event has drawn in nearly 100 people, and the institute is hoping for record numbers this year. While registration for the celebration is not required, Wolfe said it would be nice to have an idea of the attendees so people can be greeted properly. 

The event will begin with a 30-45 minute performance written by the fifth- and sixth-grade students; the performance incorporates the meaning of Hanukkah.

“I don’t know what it is yet. The teacher told me that they might have to have some parents participate,” said Marti Cohen, holiday chairman of the JPI.

Following the performance, kids of all ages — even adults — will have the opportunity to play games, like Spinagogue, for gelt, which are chocolate coins wrapped in silver and gold, and enjoy traditional latkes, potato pancakes. To incorporate Thanksgiving tradition, Cohen said, pumpkin pie will be offered for dessert, and this year’s crafts will include making menorahs from mini pumpkins and turkeys, where the feathers will represent the candles on a menorah. 

As the two holidays collide, Cohen said that besides just celebrating Thanksgiving Nov. 28, those who celebrate Hanukkah will also light the first candle for the holiday. Depending on individual family traditions, she said, children may start receiving gifts on “Thanksgivukkah.”

In addition to the games, crafts and children’s play, the celebration will also include candle lighting, songs, a balloon man and dancing. The seventh-grade students will also host a talk about the Jewish Festival of Lights across the cultures.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Marilyn Wolfe at (248) 532-5471 or email

“The celebration is very family- friendly, and people can come with small children,” Wolfe said. “I always look forward to it, and I always have fun.”