What exactly is the correct spelling for the holiday known as the festival of lights?


By Jacksonville Jewish News


                As with many words that are transliterated from Hebrew to English there is an array of ways to spell certain words but possibly none are more widely varied in spelling than the holiday known as the festival of lights, or Chanukah as it is spelled in the Jacksonville Jewish News. While out in the community during the month of December one might have seen other variations of spelling, such as Hanukkah or Chanukkah. With at least three different ways to spell this cherish holiday, the JJN reached out to local clergy and event some native Israelis to see what is the preferred spelling and if it is even possible to know, the correct one. See below for the results.



“I am strongly in favor of Hanukkah. My preference is to write the H for the "het" sound with an underline "H". But even if not I'd rather people pronounce it Hanukkah (with H as in "hat) than with the Ch (as in cheerios) sound. That's just not a Hebrew sound, so I avoid CH whenever possible. As for the double K, when a kaf has a dot in it, that actually means the letter is being doubled, so there should be two of those in English. Also, any time a word in Hebrew ends in "hey" that should be reflected with a letter at the end in English as well. Hence, Hanukkah.”

– Jacksonville Jewish center Rabbi Howard Tilman


Hanukkah and that is according to accepted convention for transliteration.”

– Congregation Ahavath Chesed Rabbi Rick Shapiro


“The correct transliteration is ‘Hanukkah’.  When transliterating Hebrew into English, the Hebrew letter het is represented as an ‘h’ with a dot or an underline indicating its guttural pronunciation. A bunch of years ago driven by the crazy inconsistency of how Hebrew is transliterated, I decided I’d go with the official method of transliteration.  Even so, I still remain somewhat inconsistent.  Maybe it takes some hutzpah, but I continue to spell the word in English as chutzpah, only because it looks strange to spell it correctly.”

– Jacksonville Jewish Center Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner 




“I would go with Chanukah, although it's a Hebrew word so you have plenty of poetic license in English.”

– Chabad at the Beaches Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky 


“The roots of the word in Hebrew are the three letters, which are the base for many other words connected to the holiday. For me, writing the word in Hebrew reminds me of the true meaning behind the holiday's name through its roots. If I had to choose an option in English, I would've chosen Chanukah since its pronunciation is the closest to the Hebrew word as we say it. When my family and I lived in the USA, we spoke native Hebrish and said ‘Hannukah’ to fit in, but we all knew in our hearts that Chanukah felt more like home.” 

– Jacksonville community shlicha Dana Marmari 


“Chanukah would be most correct because Chanukah with a Chet means ‘dedication’. Following the victory over the Greeks, the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple, which had been desecrated by the pagan invaders.”  
- Chabad of S. Johns Rabbi Mendel Sharfstein




“From a purely traditional Jewish perspective, the Sephardic dialect leans more toward the guttural "h" sound while the Ashkenazik dialect lends itself to the "ch" sound, otherwise, I think it's just spelling preference.”

– Torah Academy head of school, Rabbi Shaya Hauptman