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Is it Hanuka, or Chanuka?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


In truth it isn't spelled either way. It is really a Hebrew word spelled with Hebrew letters. There is thus no official way to transliterate into in English, although Hanukah and Chanukah are the two widely accepted English versions of the Hebrew word.

A lack of common phonetics in the two languages created the need for two versions of the word. The Hebrew word begins with the Hebrew letter Chet. There is no letter in the English alphabet that produces a sound similar to the letter Chet.

The ideal way to transliterate it is Chanukah; using the CH to make the Chet sound like in the word Challah or the musician Bach. However, those who can't pronounce that sound say Hanukah, replacing the CH sound with the H sound like in Hallah (instead of Challah) or Haim (instead of Chaim).


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