"It's pretty amazing to me that in this country we can have rich secular and rich religious celebrations and that those of us who live in both worlds can find moments when they meet and can really celebrate that convergence. There are a lot of places in the world where we would not be able to do that," Paskin said.
The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift slightly from year to year when compared to the U.S., or Gregorian, calendar. But much of the intrigue over Hanukkah this year is buried deep in the history of Thanksgiving itself, which hasn't always been fixed in the same spot. That caused some initial confusion over Thanksgivukkah, aka Turkukkah.
In 1863, Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November (the month sometimes has five of those) and the holiday remained there until President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress fixing it as the fourth Thursday, starting in 1942.
Jewish practice calls for the first candle of eight-day Hanukkah to be lit the night before Thanksgiving Day this year, so technically Thanksgivukkah falls on the "second candle" night.
And then there's Texas. Before 1863, each state decided on its own date for Thanksgiving. As late as 1956, Texans were still chowing down on turkey and stuffing a week later than everyone else, according to a history put together by Chabad.org of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Hasidic Jews. That means Jews in that state might have also been lighting their first Hanukkah candle in 1945 and 1956.