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Help for Hanukkah (Or is it Chanukah?)


by Stephen Becker 11 Dec 2009

Hanukah, which begins today, is a holiday with two spellings and even two pronunciations. But which is correct? A Tyler rabbi hopes to clear up that confusion in song. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports:

CTA TBD

katz

Hanukkah, which begins today, is a holiday with two spellings and even two pronunciations. But which is correct? A Tyler rabbi hopes to clear up that confusion in song. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports:

  • Listen to the KERA radio story:


  • Online version:

H or Ch – that is the question.

How to spell and say “Hanukkah” is a conundrum non-Jews face every December.

Now, help is on the way.

Two years ago, Tyler Rabbi Neal Katz was about to appear on a local television station to talk about the holiday. Just before the segment began, the news anchor leaned over to Katz, looking for a little guidance.

The discussion that follows is the story of Katz’s song, called “On the Air.”

SONG CLIP: “Is Hanukkah spelled with an H or a Ch? Please make it clear. Come on, rabbi, I wanna get it right, I don’t want to offend this year.”

The song is on Katz’s new CD, Be a Light: Chanukah Songs for Grown-Ups. The rabbi has been performing the song for about a year to a diverse crowd.

KATZ: “I’ve performed it for a few Jewish audiences, so they love the song because it’s silly and they get to talk about something that all Jews deal with, which is people misspelling Chanukah, and that’s not a big deal for us. But when I play it for folk audiences and for non-Jewish crowds, they love it, too. It’s just a unique little window into the world of being an East Texas rabbi.”

So how did Katz answer the news anchor? Let’s go to the song to find out.

SONG CLIP: “I said either one is acceptable, the both say they same thing. Hanukkah and Chanukah both have the same ring. But if you really want to be correct, Ch is the right bet. It’s the proper transliteration of the Hebrew letter “Chet”

So in summary, however you are saying it or spelling it is probably OK. Just don’t call it CHAN-a-ka.

Visit Katz’s Web site for information on purchasing the CD. Below is a video for “On the Air.”

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