How to Spell Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the only holiday that freaks out your spell check. And that confusion is deeper than you think.

Comments (18)

(14) Gloria Frisch, December 1, 2021 3:15 PM

I enjoyed listening to this Rabbi. To spread the joy of Chanukah I have been giving Pure Protein Power Bars to any who will wish me a "Happy Chanukah"! I've had lots of takers!

(13) bill price, December 14, 2014 9:40 PM

i want it as correct as possible

because i can't write hebrew and dont want to seem like a dumb goy to my jewish friends. they would not wish me a merry krissmus. shalom

(12) Anonymous, November 21, 2013 7:18 PM

Too much time on your hands

It's a cute video, but I think some of you just have too much time on your hands. Who cares how to spell it? R' Tzvi was just trying to bring out a point. Chill.

(11) Yosef Dov, January 22, 2013 1:21 PM

yet another spelling for Chanukah

I think that an alternate spelling of that holiday should be Annuca, Annucas, or anything like that, because that's a Greek-influenced alteration that goes even better with English, French, and many other European languages than Hannukah or its ilk and certainly Chanukah or its ilk. It's sort of like how to render the name Chana or Hannah - it's often rendered in European languages as Anna, Anne, or anything like that. Notice that Chana and Chanukah have some of the same letters in Hebrew, esp. the "chet" and the "nun". (And Annuca sounds awfully like Annika, a diminutive of Anna, as in Annika Sorenstam, the professional tennis player.) In terms of the suffix, Mattityahu often becomes Mattathias (as well as Matthew), Yonah often becomes Jonas (as well as Jonah), etc. Notice that in this case, an "s" is added in the end, also a Greek influence that has been transposed into other European languages. In summary, something like Annuca, or Annucas if you wish!

Yisroel, December 14, 2014 6:09 PM

very learned comments, Yosef Dov, but

According to your erudite comment, I wonder why you sign as Yosef Dov? Certainly, "Yoseph" is more correct, as the "f" is a corrupted softening of Vav (hence its placement in the sixth position) as opposed to the "ph," where the he is used to allow air to merge with the hard p sound to soften the p correctly. Also, the Y consonant in German is always written with a J. A German looking at "Joseph" would say "Yosef," just as ahe would say "yah" when reading "yes," the source of the English"yes." So Joseph's is the correct rendition. And of course Dov is "properly" rendered in Germanic languages as "Be[a]r."
Therefore, you should be signing as Joseph Bear/Ber.
Unless, in honor of Chanukkah you sign as "Josephus Bearus!!"
Happy Annuka!

(10) Henry Wiltschek, December 24, 2011 3:24 PM

You always learn something new

A very educational presentation.

(9) Lauryn, December 23, 2011 3:50 PM

One K

I really dislike the 2-K versions. This only seems to have started in the last few years. Only one K is necessary, and the 2 Ks look ridiculous. If it was a ch- sound that it was trying to express, then ok, that would make more sense, but it's not. Other than that I have never minded any variation of the H or Ch at the beginning, Chanukah or Hanukah, or even leaving the H off at the end, but the two Ks really irritate me.

Mikhael, December 26, 2011 7:05 PM

@Lauryn RE: Two K's in Hanukka

You write: "I really dislike the 2-K versions. This only seems to have started in the last few years. Only one K is necessary, and the 2 Ks look ridiculous." Actually, two Ks are a very accurate transliteration because "חֲנֻכָּה‎" is spelled in Hebrew with a dagesh (דָּגֵשׁ), which among other things, serves to double a consonant's sound. Of course, the khaf (כ ) with a dagesh becomes a kaf (כּ), but it also doubles the sound. So transliterating חֲנֻכָּה as "Haunkkah" is a very accurate, and has been a convention in linguistically accurate transliteration of Hebrew for quite some time.

(8) Anonymous, December 23, 2011 2:40 AM

You Light Up My Life

It's actually spelled "Debby" Boone.

(7) Kay Lorriane, December 22, 2011 9:57 PM

Loved the Debbie Boone line at the end!

Loved this commentary. I also liked Larry's comment on how to spell Tzvi. Good stuff here. I wish I were doing the midrash this week at shul. I would totally rip this off and everyone would think I was brilliant!

(6) Dr. JonasMoses, December 22, 2011 8:53 PM

Great commentary!

Awesome, Tzvi! Thank you for the illumination, and humor with you shared it! Shalom, Dr. Jonas Moses

(5) Nachum, December 22, 2011 8:48 PM

Well, maybe it has to do with spirituality...

The reason is more mundane. It has to do with the fact that each language is made up of different sounds. If we didn't have an alphabet, there would be no issues with translation. A German and Spaniard would have no problem with Chanukah. They would pronounce it as they heard it as both languages carry that sound. As soon as you bring the written word into the picture, then the Spaniard converts the 'ch' to 'tch'. I lived in Colombia for 11 years. My US passport carried my first name as Nachum. So I was addressed as senor Na-tch-oom. Had I used Najum, there would have been no problem except in the US, France .. well you know what I mean. Zvi, nice try with the spirituality, but I think you are confusing the issue. A grand Chag (Jag) Samey-ach (aj)

(4) joel batalsky, December 22, 2011 3:04 PM

Jewish wisdom

Why do the Rabbis always have to make a joke This is very serious business!

(3) Tricia, December 22, 2011 2:48 PM

How To Spell Hanukkah

thank you Rabbi for a most enlightening and funny explanation of the spelling of Hanukkah. I am still smiling as I write this. But, despite all the humor, you still got your tender message across, for which I thank you.

(2) Larry Lesser, December 18, 2011 6:10 PM

better than Boone

great video, Tzvi (or is it Zvi? or Svee? ha-ha). Here's a Lesser-known version of how the Boone song was supposed to go: So many nights I sit by my window Waiting for light as the nights get so long Miracles abound, there’s a soul deep inside me It’s time to proclaim With light and with song: And we light for 8 nights To proclaim hope We’ll carry on There’s more to our days Than going along with the throng

Mrs.Epstein, December 19, 2011 7:52 AM

More than funny!

Great comment!

Mati, December 22, 2011 6:54 PM

It's Tsvi

I just know it's NOT Matisyahu

(1) Steven Edwards, December 18, 2011 1:49 PM

You Light Up My Life

That was awesome except now I can't get that Debbie Boone song out of my head. Thanks Tzvi...


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