Friday, December 11, 2009

Chanukah Oh Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Chanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. I have been a Rosenberg for more than four years now but I am not really Jewish, merely a Jew-adjacent. However, in my fake Jew-ness I have learned just a couple of things about this holiday.

No one really knows how to spell the name.
According to the Jewish internet, each of the following spellings are acceptable:
• Chanuka
• Chanukah
• Chanukkah
• Channukah
• Hanukah
• Hannukah
• Hanukkah
• Hanuka
• Hanukka
• Hanaka
• Haneka
• Hanika
• Khanukkah

The "CH" at the front of the word CHanukkah did present a problem for my Spanish speaking, English as a second language, Catholic daily mass going, Grandma Sophie. The year I was 12, she sent me what she thought was a Christmas card. On the front, a sweet cartoon of little girl lighting a menorah. "Happy Chanukkah to a sweet grandaughter," printed inside. Looked like the word Christmas to her. Either way, I still got 10 bucks.

There are different pronunciations of the word Hanukkah.
Some just go with the "h" sound, others like to get some phlegm behind it. Allan Murray did a bit in his act years ago where he referred to "Chanukkah" as "Chewbacca." I have pronounced it Chewbacca since then.

Dreidel is Jewish gambling.
The traditional Chanukah/Chanukkah/Hannuka game of Dreidel is played with a four sided top (the dreidel) and foil wrapped chocolate coins (the gelt). Note: The only gelt I could find this year at our local Rite-Aid, has pictures of Sponge Bob Square Pants on it.

On each side of the top is a Hebrew letter representing the different game play.

G - Gimmel - The player Gets it all. 

H - Hey - player collects Half of the pot. 

S - Shin - The player Sets one of his own items into the pot.
N -Nun - Or as my son refers to it, "Phone." The player collects Nothing from the pot. 


The game is played as follows:
Divide gelt equally among the players.

Every player contributes one piece of gelt into a central pile. This becomes the "pot." 

Players spin the dreidel in turn and contribute or collect gelt from the pot based upon which letter faces up when the dreidel stops its spin.
The player who gains the most gelt wins.
If the winning player is not my son Bob, there will be fake-Jew hell to pay.

It’s really the lowest tech slot machine ever. This includes the slots at the Mobil station in Pahrump, Nevada.

Happy Chewbacca to you, my friends. May you never land on Phone.


  1. A shout out to Pahrump is what MAKES the festival of lights!

  2. Damn it. You just HAD to mention Pahrump in your lovely Hannukah post. Now I'll have "Whiskey Pete's, Bring your own sheet!" in my head all day.

  3. when I was managing some customer service reps, I had the pleasure of seeing some notes in the CRM.The rep had thought that Chanukkah was the iPod recipients name...
    "the custumer receeved their iPod from Honica and they says it was broken out of the box"

  4. Strange. We only spell it one way, and pronounce it one way. You Americans have to complicate everything, don't you?

  5. Finally, the answer to my unasked question. I can now go forth, teach my fellow goyim, and play Chewbacca dreidel. I hope never to land on phone.

  6. the one time i drove to las vegas i won 186.oo with 3 quarters when i stopped for gas at the mobil station in Parhump, Nevada of course i lost it all when i hit the "festival of lights of las vegas"

  7. I don't seem to remember any of this in my " jewish Literacy" book... Maybe you should send in for their second edition.