Wondering what Mayor Thomas Menino thinks about Thanksgivukkah and its impact on the city of Boston? The JewishBoston.com team was curious to know if the holiday was on his radar, so we called his office to get the scoop. It turns out we were lucky enough to nab an in-person interview with Mayor Menino himself at Boston City Hall, so we showed up with our video camera and (very excited) host, CJP employee David Micley, and asked him all about this holiday phenomenon and what it would take to declare Thanksgivukkah an official holiday in Boston. Find out what he said in this transcript of our interview. (You can also catch part of it in our Thanksgivukkah video.)
When was the last time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped in Boston?
I’ve been mayor 20 years and I’ve never seen it before, and it won’t happen for another 80,000 years. This is the first time ever.
So you’ve heard about this holiday?
I’ve heard about it, yes.
And what do you know about it?
Well, it’s the overlapping of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. They come on the same day, which is very unusual.
And how big of a deal is this for the Boston Jewish community?
Really what it says to me is that we’re a strong community, we understand there’s diversity and we respect each other’s religion and customs, and that to me is just so important. Today in our world there’s not a lot of that going on—respecting each other, the customs and the traditions of each religious group—and that’s what’s so important, to me at least.
Do you have any traditions you plan on celebrating especially strong this year for Thanksgivukkah?
On Thanksgivukkah I usually go to the homeless shelters in the city of Boston and visit all those folks who have no place to go on Thanksgiving. I just show them the mayor of Boston is with them, and I show them some gratitude for trying to get their lives rebuilt once again.
What are some of the overlapping values between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah?
Diversity, strength of ourselves and strength of religion. But I think more important is that combining those two days sends out a strong message. It might be just happening by [the] calendar, but I think by us celebrating that day—Thanksgivukkah—it shows that we’re working together to improve our society, to understand our differences and to make a stronger world. If we all celebrated [the holidays] separately it would send no message; this sends a real message of strength and working together to make a better community. Get rid of all the other craziness that goes on—the hatred we have in our community, the bias we have, all those things. Thanksgivukkah is going to send a strong message that we’re all working together to make this a better America, a better city and a better world.
You’re the greatest mayor Boston has ever seen.
It’s true. Everyone knows it’s true! You’re also the mayor that is sitting as mayor while this holiday is happening and won’t happen again for more than 70,000 years. So how much does it mean to you personally to be in this historical position?
To me it’s another benchmark in my career. It’s a benchmark for the city and the people of our city to understand that we’re going to work together. People don’t understand the significance. Maybe it’s a calendar thing, but if we keep on celebrating Thanksgivukkah and other celebrations like this, people will be able to work together and stop the separation—you’re this and you’re that. That’s why Thanksgiving is so important to all of us. If we continue to do similar things like this, we’ll work together instead of separating ourselves.
What will it take for you to declare Thanksgivukkah a city-wide holiday?
On Nov. 28 I will declare “Thanksgivukkah Day” in the city of Boston. I have the power and I will do that. I’ll put a proclamation together and I’ll send it to CJP with my approval of it, and my saying to them we support the concept of Thanksgivukkah. I hope this [concept] goes throughout the whole year and not just on Thanksgiving.
That means a lot to us! Thank you for that. Do you have any Thanksgivukkah wishes for the residents of Boston?
Just happy Thanksgivukkah! But just as I’ve said so many times in this interview, let’s learn how to work together and work through differences, and help the people who need the help the most. Let’s get back to helping people. We’re in a “me” generation now; let’s get back to “us” and [work] together to make this a better world.
One more question: Can you spell Thanksgivukkah?
I’ve got spell correct on my computer, so no. [Laughs.]
You won’t even try?
No, I won’t even try, no! [Laughs.]