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Subscribe Now: Fascinating Jewish Facts

November 17, 2021

Dear Friend,

As a reader of Chabad.org, you have surely noticed that over the past several years, we have published dozens upon dozens of lists. We have lists of facts about Jewish holidays, facts about people, facts about mitzvahs, facts about historical events … The list (of lists) goes on and on.

And so we are delighted to share with you that we have now created an email list that sends out a new compilation of facts each week: Fascinating Jewish Facts.

Curious to learn 13 facts about the Maccabees, 18 facts about matzah, 12 facts about Rachel or 10 facts about the Hebrew language? This email list is for you!

Enjoy!

Menachem Posner

Staff Editor, Chabad.org

Chanukah or Hanukkah? Which Spelling Is Correct?

November 15, 2021

Hanukkah, a.k.a. Chanukah, is one of the most well-known Jewish holidays, right up there with Passover and the High Holidays. What is less well known is how to spell it, or how to pronounce it.

Ready to get to the heart of the Hanukkah vs. Chanukah debate?

The Hebrew name of this holiday is חנוכה, which is pronounced kha-noo-kah. It is never pronounced as tcha-noo-kah.

“H” or “Ch”?

The first consonant, the ח, is pronounced as /x/ in Ashkenazic tradition. This phoneme, which sounds like someone clearing his throat of phlegm, does not exist in standard English.

Thus, several approaches have been adopted.

The most common English spelling uses “h,” which is not perfect, but makes for an eminently pronounceable word. In addition, in Sephardic tradition the ח is pronounced as /ḥ/, which sounds close to /h/. Thus Sephardic Jews, as well as many non-Jews, prefer “Hanukkah.”

Ashkenazic Jews, however, traditionally favor “Chanukah.” This is because “ch” has long been used to represent the /x/ in innumerable names (Menachem), holidays (Pesach), and concepts (Chabad), like it is used in German. Thus, in traditional, observant circles, “Chanukah” is more familiar and consistent with how many other Hebrew and Yiddish words are treated.

One “K” or Two?

In Hebrew, some consonants have a diacritic (dagesh) placed in their center, which tells us to pronounce them as plosive instead of fricative. In simple English this means that, for example, ב is pronounced as /v/, but when it has a dot in its center (בּ), it is pronounced as /b/. In certain grammatical contexts the dagesh also indicates that the sound of the letter is geminated (doubled), similar to the “kk” in “bookkeeper,” although most Ashkenazic and some Sefardic reading traditions don’t maintain this distinction.

Some purists maintain that when these sounds are transliterated into English, these letters should be doubled, to reflect this. Thus “Shabat” becomes “Shabbat,” and “Hanukah” becomes “Hanukkah.”

This nuance is, for the most part, not recognized by your average Jew, who sees no practical reason to add a “k” to his favorite wintertime holiday, and is perfectly satisfied to refer to it as Chanukah.

One Final Option

Yiddish academics prefer to spell this holiday as Khanike, which (they argue) most accurately reflects how it is pronounced among Yiddish-speaking Jews.

However, unless you are writing out an entire Yiddish sentence in English characters, this spelling is as confusing as it is uncommon.

Common Ground

No matter how you pronounce this holiday, all can agree that it is to be celebrated by lighting the menorah (or should that be a hanukiah?) nightly, singing praises to G‑d, and expressing our gratitude for His kindness.

What's New @ Chabad.org/Kids?

November 10, 2021

Are you on the lookout for fun and exciting ways to explore Judaism with kids? Do you wish you could enlighten and entertain them at the same time?

We’re glad to share with you that Chabad.org/Kids pumps out a weekly lineup of videos, songs, stories and crafts, each one conveying another Jewish value, teaching, or mitzvah.

A most recent addition is “Shazak Parsha,” with new episodes added each week. Using rich audio, vivid imagery, and a healthy dose of wackiness, these videos make parshah learning something young and old look forward to each week.

Want to get in on the action? Sign up here to get a weekly email with our curated selection of offerings from Chabad.org/Kids.

Chanukah Is Just Around the Corner

November 5, 2021

We’ve now entered the Hebrew month of Kislev, and that means that Chanukah is just around the corner. Even as the nights get darker, longer and colder (in the Northern Hemisphere), we look forward to the increasing lights of Chanukah.

With the pandemic still keeping some people home, we are delighted to share that we’re just a click away and ready to help. From our how-to guide and handy fact list to our extensive audio/video library and stories section, we even have a special section dedicated to Chanukah in isolation (which we hope to retire soon!).

Our online Judaica shop is fully stocked with whatever you may need to celebrate the Festival of Lights in style. From candles to menorahs (including an all-in starter kit) and dreidels, we have everything you need to hold a Chanukah party at home.

With wishes for a joyous (and safe) Chanukah,

Your friends at Chabad.org

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