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Is it Chanukah, Hanukah, Hanukkah or Channukah?

Renee Eder on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hanukkah is just a few weeks away (December 2–10), and my kids sure are excited. We have our dreidels (tops) ready for spinning, chocolate gelt (coins) purchased and hidden so they make it to Chanukah :), Kitchen Aid mixer attachment ready for potato shredding, and menorahs de-waxed and ready to go!

My daughter is writing an essay about Chanukah in school. She asked me a question today, that may seem like a simple question, but it's actually complex because it doesn't have just one answer. The question is, "How is Chanukah spelled?" Is it Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukkah, Channukah, or something else? Confused? I don’t blame you. Why is this Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, spelled in so many ways?


The Right Way to Spell Chanukah

The answer comes down to transliteration. Unlike translation, transliteration is when you “change (letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.” In Hebrew, the language from which the Jewish festival originates, the word for Hanukkah is not easily transliterated into English. This accounts for why there are so many spelling variants. But Hanukkah and Chanukah are the two versions that are most widely used and accepted, and we typically use "Chanukah" at the J. Honestly, you can use any spelling that you are used to, and the one that works best for you!

No matter how you spell it, Hanukkah is a fun holiday. It lasts for eight days, and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Although many scholars disagree about how to interpret the Hebrew word for Chanukah, one common interpretation is that it means “dedication.”

On each night of the holiday, a different branch of a candelabrum called a menorah is illuminated. The festival is also celebrated by indulging in latkes, or fried potato pancakes. Children play dreidel each night, and open gifts after each candle is lit. What are some of your family Chanukah traditions? Please answer in the comments. Pics are a bonus!

Looking for Chanukah gifts? Come check out our Annual Jewish Book Fair & Chanukah Sale from Sunday–Tuesday, November 18–20, 9am–noon, 4pm–7pm; Wednesday, November 21, 9am–noon.

Also, don't miss the annual Light Up the Night! Community Menorah Lighting at Mosaic District on December 5 at 5:30 pm. Join us as we light the candles, enjoy entertainment and a Chanukah sing-along, feast on sufganiyot, and spin the dreidel! Learn more here: https://bit.ly/2OEXWe7.

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