Saturday, December 08, 2012

It's Chanukah, and Chanukah it is.

 In the song accompanying the video above, the LeeVees address the burning question: how do you spell the name of the minor Jewish holiday--but which has become major in the American context; see Hilary Leila Krieger's piece on the Op-Ed page of today's New York Times--that started today, and will last for another seven days? Ms. Krieger chose "Hanukkah." Four years ago I chose the alternative "Chanukah," mostly because it gave a visual as well as sonic alliteration to my post's title, "Chanukah on the Chisholm Trail." Last year I avoided the issue by not mentioning the name in the title or body of my post, although the caption of the embedded Matisyahu video spells it "Hanukkah." The LeeVees don't give us an answer.

Of course, there is one absolutely correct way to spell the name of the holiday:  חֲנֻכָּה What we're considering here is how to spell it in a transliterated fashion, in the Roman alphabet. I've made my choice: I'm going with Chanukah. My reason is that the initial "Ch" denotes the slight guttural sound, as distinguished from the soft English "H," that properly begins the word. So says this latke loving (salmon roe and sour cream, please) goy, who eagerly awaits our neighbor's Chanukah celebration.

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