Which team are you on?


Have you listened to the first podcasts from Jewish Rhody Media? It’s a terrific series on leadership called Chutzpah! There’s a new episode every other Thursday, featuring Adam Greenman, president and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island (and Jewish Rhode Island’s publisher) interviewing business leaders from around little Rhody.

These Jewish movers and shakers have many interesting stories to tell, as well as tips on leadership. It’s definitely worth a listen – at roughly 30 minutes each, you can quickly learn a lot.

And be sure to listen until the end, because that’s when Greenman asks some lighter questions, including one that’s been particularly relevant this month: How do you spell Hanukkah?

Are you team Hanukkah or Chanukah?

There are many ways to spell the holiday in English, but the big question for those of us involved in print is: Do you start the word with “H” or “Ch”? (This is true for many words spelled with a het/chet.) After that, there are a variety of spellings involving multiples – or not – of “n” and “k.”

Some people choose to use an underlined H as an indicator of the ch sound.  This can be problematic with our print newspaper, and we do not use this method.

And sometimes, I’ve learned, opinions and usage vary even within families. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been team H. My sister, on the other hand, seems to use Ch.  How is that possible?

For Jewish Rhode Island, we rely on the wisdom of the Associated Press Stylebook, which dictates grammar, spelling and other issues for many publications.  AP says: Hanukkah.

The “Dictionary of Jewish Words,” by Joyce Eisenberg, another guidebook that we commonly consult, also says Hanukkah. So that’s the spelling you will see in Jewish Rhode Island.  (However, since our advertisers submit their own ads, you will see a variety of spellings in those ads, which we don’t edit.)

If you’ve ever wondered why the newspaper uses certain spellings instead of others, as in the case of Huppah instead of Chuppah and hag instead of chag, for example, the same rule applies: our stylebooks dictate one spelling over another, even though people are pretty evenly divided on how they spell these words.

What’s it like in your family? We all have an opinion and at Jewish Rhode Island, we’d love to hear yours.

As for chutzpah with a Ch? Well, the “Dictionary of Jewish Words” uses that spelling for that classic Yiddish word.

You can find links to the Chutzpah! podcasts on the Jewish Rhode Island website home page (jewishrhody.org) or on Apple Music and Spotify, where you can also subscribe to receive notices when new episodes drop. The latest is out on Dec. 2 and features Rabbi Sarah Mack of Temple Beth-El, in Providence.

In this season of shorter days and longer nights, I hope your family’s hanukkiah burned brightly, shedding light and hope on the season.

Hag sameach!

Fran Ostendorf, Editor

Chutzpah!, Hanukkah, Editor's column