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Jewish Parent Outraged After Daughter’s Teacher Says ‘Chanukah’ Isn’t The ‘Correct’ Spelling

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It can be really frustrating when someone argues with you about something you’re more knowledgeable about. This is particularly annoying when it’s literally your own culture.

Redditor Happychanookad7mordy explains her issue with a teacher for their child. The argument got so bad, she had to ask the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” if she was wrong for the way she acted.

The original poster (OP) describes her scenario as such:

“AITA for making a big deal about 1 extra credit point on my child’s test?”

Which sounds pretty bad. Making a stink over a single extra credit point sounds like something that’s too much effort to justify.

However, her full story explains things a little bit better.

“My daughter had a spelling test which included some holiday words for extra credit. One of the words was ‘Chanukah’.”

“My daughter spelled it the way I just did, but the teacher marked it wrong and corrected it to ‘Hanukkah’.”

“She said to my daughter ‘you’re Jewish and you don’t know how to spell Hanukkah?’”

“I think she meant it jokingly but my daughter was annoyed. My daughter told the teacher that Chanukah is correct, but the teacher didn’t believe her.”

“I told the teacher that Chanukah was also correct and that my daughter should get the point, and the teacher argued with me, saying that Hanukkah is more correct because it’s more commonly used than Chanukah.”

“I said if any spelling is more correct it would be Chanukah because the Ch represents the sound from the back of the throat you’re supposed to make.”

“The teacher agreed to correct the test but seemed really sour about it and said she was just trying to be inclusive.”

“I said I appreciate that but she should keep in mind that if the word isn’t in English that there might be multiple acceptable spellings for it and that they should all be given credit.”

“My husband says I overreacted.”

“Honestly I probably wouldn’t have bothered so much if the word was something else, but I resented the teacher, who isn’t Jewish, arguing with me and my daughter about how to spell our own holiday.”

This is wildly different from the original question. It’s no longer just about a single extra credit point, but about a teacher acting as if they know better about how to spell “Hanukkah/Chanukah” than actual Jewish people.

On the AITA board, responses can vary, but votes are tallied with one of the following:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Considering this is about a non-Jew telling a Jewish person one spelling for a Jewish holiday is “more correct” than another, most Redditors voted OP was NTA.

“NTA. You didn’t make a big deal about 1 credit point. You made a big deal out of a teacher that incorrectly told your kid she was wrong when she wasn’t, and she wouldn’t listen to your daughters explanation.”

“You just taught your daughter that if she’s being treated unfairly, you have her back. You did well.” – Trania86

“NTA, and what??? Your teacher, who is not Jewish, is lecturing you and your Jewish family on the correct spelling of a holiday she doesn’t celebrate? You handled it far more calmly than I would have.” – Adept-One-819

“NTA. Your daughter was correct. The teacher is uneducated.”

“You responded to a teacher trying to pass off her lack of education as a fact when shes just wrong. She also thought mocking a kid was acceptable?”

“Heck no report her. That is not inclusive- just insensitive” – Luna-Strange

“NTA. The way she joked about your daughter not knowing how to spell her own holiday is pretty far over the line.”

“She wants a cookie for being inclusive? F*** that.”

“Its not okay to simply add a dreidel song to class and be like YAY INCLUSIVE while hosting a Christmas pageant for all of December, its not a feather in your hat to add Chanukah to the spelling test. 😑” – wildferalfun

The conversation even discussed how the word is transliterated—to write a word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet.

There’s a whole lot more versions of the word than even just the two at the heart of the issue here.

You can spell the Hebrew word חנוכה in many different ways.

“Aren’t there over half a dozen ‘correct’ ways to spell Chanukah? NTA” – AllInWithAces

“Yup. Over 20, in fact.”

“Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanuka, Chanukka, Hanuka, Hanukka, Hanuqa, Chanuqa, 7nukah (no, really)…”

“The list goes on and on.” – lowdiver

“Okay, so I wasn’t incorrect on my fb post when I used Chanukkah? Why is it most commonly the double k with the H, and single k with the Ch?”

“I swear that Hanukkah and Chanukah are what I see most often, but I always want to use Chanukkah.” – oh_hai_there_kitteh

“Still correct! The beauty of transliteration is that there are SO MANY ways to spell it.”

“There’s actually a fantastic scene in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend where the main character has banners of several spellings and is mulling over which one is right—it’s a running joke.”

“Khanukkah is another fun one to make people’s heads spin!” – lowdiver

While the issue at play here was over a single extra credit point, there’s a deeper issue of how we treat other cultures. Understanding another’s perspective includes the idea that they may know how to represent their culture better than you do.

One extra credit point is no reason for anyone to get that worked up, but a person’s culture is a different matter. A little respect goes a long way.

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.