The Jewish mother who coined ‘Thanksgivukkah’ tells all

The Jewish mother who coined ‘Thanksgivukkah’ tells all

Fame touched down in Norwood this fall, after Dana Gitell, a 37-year-old Jewish mother, coined — and then trademarked — a term for a holiday that became the toast of the nation: Thanksgivukkah. It celebrates the happy convergence of the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving and has been acknowledged by various media outlets and embraced by celebrities, including President Obama. On Wednesday morning, with Thanksgivukkah mere hours away, Gitell, a marketing specialist at NewBridge on the Charles, a Dedham retirement community, talked about going from relative obscurity to the front page of national newspapers.

Q. Thanksgivukkah won’t come around again for a while — 79,043 years, according to one calculation. Are you sad that your moment — at least this moment — is ending?

A. It really has been a sampling of what actual famous people must experience. It has been one of the best experiences of my life, but I’m glad it’s temporary. Fielding media calls — [from the Globe, the BBC, various Israeli papers, and the Wall Street Journal, among others] — has been exhausting. I have a job and two kids [ages 3 and 6]. I’ve done interviews while driving or trying to get dinner on the table.

‘How often do holidays intersect? . . . There are people who think it’s funny and amusing, and why not spice up Thanksgiving this year with Jewish food.’

Q. I read that in her day, Snooki of “Jersey Shore” was getting red-carpet appearance fees in the $20,000 range. Anything like that for you?

A. No, but a bunch of Jewish celebrities have tweeted about Thanksgivukkah and talked about it. When Mayim Bialik [a star on “The Big Bang Theory”] went on Arsenio Hall’s show, she said “some bored Jew” figured out when it would come around again. [Comedian] Judy Gold did a Huffington Post Internet TV thing on it. I wanted to die of happiness. I love her.

Q. Have you at least been recognized?

A. No one has high-fived me as I walk down the street, but the Facebook page has over 13,000 fans. I’m interacting with people all over the country and in Israel. People are e-mailing me pictures of how they’re celebrating and telling me what it’s like to be a Jew in Spearfish, S.D.

Q. Speaking of those Thanksgivukkah photos, will you name some favorites?

A. There’s a corn-cob menorah. And one woman wrote that her new grandson will be having his bris [ritual circumcision] that day. She was decorating pumpkins for what she called “Brisgivukkah.’’ As a Jew I’m laughing, but I don’t know what others will think.

Q. Why do you think Jews and non-Jews have taken to the holiday?

A. I think people like the novelty. How often do holidays intersect? Plus, I don’t think people realize that the Jewish calendar [which is lunar] isn’t the same as the [Gregorian] one. It seems like we’re bending some time-space continuum. There are people who think it’s funny and amusing, and why not spice up Thanksgiving this year with Jewish food. There is still anti-Semitism; I don’t want to pretend there isn’t. But there is also this. We’re a nation of immigrants, and I think it’s striking a chord with people who respond to that.

Q. Aside from Judy Gold, what’s been your favorite part of Thanksgivukkah?

A. We decided to donate 10 percent of the profits from Thanksgivukkah merchandise [cards and shirts] to Mazon [a nonprofit that fights hunger]. We just announced we’ll be giving over $20,000. I always wished I could be one of those people who writes a big check. This is my big check.