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The game of Dreidel has been played by Jewish children customarily at Chanukah, although the game can be played anytime, the association is usually made of the holiday.
A Star of David in matching glass adorns the top and the solder joins are created in a decorative way, which has become a signature of my stained glass objects work.
The bottom of the dreidel is a pyramid shape created with triangular pieces of contrasting glass - usually iridized for added pizzazz. The low-slung dreidle spins easily on a tiny ball of brass (see third photo). There are a total of 14 pieces of glass which are joined using the Tiffany copper foil technique.
Solid, weighty and low, the dreidles are aerodynamically designed to spin for a long time - some have been clocked at well over a minute! Bits of elongated and specks of gold holographic glitter on the interior catch the light and reflect it brilliantly - even if it's not spinning!
I create personalized dreidels for bar/bat mitzvahs with the cut up invitation as the design (see photo). For a small extra charge I "write" in wire on the bottom the name and date of the bar-mitzvah.
Dreidels have become huge collector's items in the past couple of decades and my dreidels can be found on display at several synagogues, temples and homes throughout the country (including several rabbis). Better Homes & Gardens Magazine did a feature article on them in their December issue.
My dreidels have also been sold in many prestigious galleries from coast to coast including each of the four SIGNATURE GALLERIES OF FINE ART & AMERICAN CRAFT along the Eastern Massachusetts shores as well as in Connecticut; The Giving Tree, Cape Cod; and A Stone’s Throw, Brookline, Massachusetts. I have shown and sold at other galleries further west such as Gotthelf in Vail, Colorado; The Skirball Jewish Cultural Center's Museum’s gift shop in Los Angeles and the beautiful gift shop in the Long Beach Museum of Art. They have been included in many private dreidel collections both in the U.S. and abroad.
To play dreidel is easy:
Dreidels come with instructions (which depicts which Hebrew letter is which) but you can find the rules below:
Dreidel Game Instructions
Have some small items to play for such as pretzel sticks, candies, pennies or chocolate coins, etc.
• Every player starts off with an equal number of “goodies”.
• To start, each player contributes one item into a central pile. This becomes the "pot."
• Players spin the dreidel in turn and contribute or collect items from the pot based upon which letter faces up when the dreidel stops its spin.
- Nun - Nisht - the player collects nothing from the pot.
- Gimmel - Gantz - the player gets it all.
- Hey - Halb - The player collects half of the pot.
- Shin - Shtel - The player sets one of his own items into the pot.
Origins of playing Dreidel - A German Gambling Game?
The modern dreidel, from the German dreihen - to spin, is a Judaicized version of a German gambling game. (Nineteenth century Englishmen revived the game as "teetotum," a similar wobbly game of chance.) Even the Hebrew is based on the German gambling instructions. Each of the four sides has a Hebrew letter. The "Nun" stands for "nisht," none. "Gimmel" stands for "ganz," all. "Hey" stands for "halb," half. "Shin" stands for "shtel - stay put."
Judaism is full of examples where spiritual meaning is read into everyday objects, Shabbat candles for example. Similarly, dreidels have had many different interpretations read into them.
The Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin, the four Hebrew letters found on the dreidel sides, classically have been understood as an acronym for "Nes gadol haya sham," a great miracle happened there.
In Israel, where a dreidel is known as a "sevivon", Hebrew for top, the sides are inscribed with an altered message. "Nes gadol haya po," a great miracle happened HERE.
My dreidels make great gifts to adults and kids alike and they will become treasured keepsakes and constant reminders of one's great heritage through the years.