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Celebrating 'Thanksgivukah': Jewish Americans Looking Forward To Extra Time With Loved Ones During Back-To-Back Holidays

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Chanukah starts at sundown this Sunday.

This year, the holiday falls right after Thanksgiving, which means Jewish Americans will go from turkey to Black Friday and back again to having family around the table on Sunday.

As Broadway reopened, soon after so did the Actors' Temple on West 47th Street.

The sanctuary has been home to off-Broadway shows for months, but it just welcomed back congregants in person in November in time for Chanukah.

"It commemorates a time when the Seleucid Greeks, before the turn of the millennium, were outlawing Judaism," Rabbi Jill Hausman said.

The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was retaken by the Maccabees from the Greeks in the second century BCE.

Oil kept the menorah lit eight days instead of the one night it was supposed to last. The oil is why fried foods are eaten to celebrate that miracle.

"Chanukah is always our big celebration. We have an open mic. Usually more than 20 people perform. We have a latkes party," Hausman said.

Performing brings the 104-year-old temple back to its roots.

The first rabbi invited Broadway stars whose headshots line the hallways. Singer Sophie Tucker was a huge supporter.

Members included the Three Stooges, Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz," CBS host Ed Sullivan's wife, Sylvia Weinstein, and baseball great Sandy Koufax.

"You feel at home when you're here, physically," congregant Bob Greenberg said.

"Chanukah is a celebration of freedom and beauty and miracles, and this place is a miracle," said Carol Ostrow, president of the Board of Trustees for the Actors' Temple.

With Thanksgiving and Chanukah so close together this year, some eateries have had to stay on their toes, literally switching their menus overnight.

"This is stuffed squash, chili with cornbread, our not-pigs in a blanket," said Vlad Grinburg, co-owner of Organic Grill in the East Village.

That's Thanksgiving, and before the feast even begins, the kosher and vegan restaurant is taking orders for Chanukah.

"We have babka. We have obviously matzo ball soup, Jewish penicillin," Grinburg said.

Isaac Thomas, who now lives in Israel, is back home for both holidays.

"Connecting with friends on Thanksgiving, being with family on Chanukah is incredible," he said.

As a vegan and app founder, he's using all the facetime to promote the launch of his new global app, Vegan Nation, connecting vegans with vendors like Organic Grill directly.

"What is Chanukah like for someone who's vegan?" Rozner asked.

"A bit easier. The doughnuts are obviously amazing," Thomas said.

Doughnuts are a traditional part of Chanukah. Starting Sunday, many Jewish bakeries will begin selling the doughnuts with all kinds of fillings.

Some are calling it a "Thanksgivukah," bringing light with some gravy on the side as we hopefully step out of the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic.

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