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Hanukkah  Definition

Hanukkah - (pronounced 'Ha' noo kuh'. Literally - dedication or inauguration.) A Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees, the sons of Mattathias (Matityahu)  Maccabee and their armies, over the Syrian Helenist colonialists, who had governed Jerusalem since Alexander the Great, and the cleansing and re-opening of the Jewish temple. Traditionally, a miracle occurred in which oil that was only enough for a single day burned for 8 full days until newly consecrated oil could be made for the temple Menorah. A nine branched (eight plus a "master) candelabrum, the Hanukkiya, (not to be confused with the 7 branch Menorah) is lit each night of Hannukah and put in the window of every Jewish home. Special games, gifts and songs mark this holiday, which is a festival of national liberation, like Passover.  Its significance for Zionism, is obvious. The deeds of the Maccabees were popularized in a book by the American author, Howard Fast, My Glorious Brothers.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Channuka, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hannukka, Hanukah, Chanuka

Further Information: Hanukkah

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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