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Hanukkah or Chanukkah?? 

11/26/2023 11:31:32 AM


Hanukkah or Chanukkah? Passover or Pesach? For that matter, Rosh Hashanah, Roshashanah  or Jewish New Year?

I have a bit of a pet peeve to air. It is time to take back the names of our own holidays. When did the name of our holiday, lose its most important sound... the "ch" of the first letter of the holiday... ? I mean just because non Jews have difficulty pronouncing the word, does that mean we should drop the most Jewish sounding letter of our alef bet to make it easier for others to pronounce the name of OUR holiday? The word Chanukkah, as it is properly pronounced means "dedication" referring to the re-dedicatoin of the Temple as a place of Jewish worship after the Syrian Greeks defiled it. The word Hanukkah... well, I don't think it means anything in proper Hebrew. 

What would we do without the letter "chet"? We would lose some of my favorite words: like my mother's name Chanah, and how about the word chalom which means dream? Or the word challah....   ? I maintain that challah without its "ch" is just bread. While CHallah... is well...I don't have to tell you. Or how about the word Humash? What is  a Humash you ask?  It isn't anything actually... but if you return the "ch" to that word,  we get the word  chumash... a chumash is the Torah in book form, from the word chamesh which means five (5 books of Torah...). And a person who studies  their chumash daily is said to be a cha-cham - a wise person! (Not a ha-ham!). 

When I was in Cantorial student, one of my schoolmates Jeffrey Myers (now known as Rabbi Cantor Jeff Myers from Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh wrote a cute little ditty called "Who took the "ch" out of Chanukkah"?. I can't find it anywhere on Youtube... but here is the first verse: 

Who took the "ch" out of Chanukkah? Was it Amy, Michelle or Veronica? 

Who took the "ch" out of Chanukkah? Let's put the "ch" back in Chanukkah!

It's perfectly fine to say Harmonica, It's just not right to say Charmonica, 

I wonder why anyone would wanna-kah? Take the "ch" out of chanukkah! 

Another word that features the letter "chet" is chag... which means holiday. And the word sa-may-ach (happy) ends with a "ch".   

Here is one of the best know Chanukkah songs in Yiddish, English and Hebrew by the master Theodore Bikel. Please note that even in the English version, he clearly says "chanukkah"!  Chanukkah, oy Chanukkah Theodore Bikel

Chag chanukkah sa-may-ach everyone!! 




Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784