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These fun little guys are perfect for every day spinning fun or for Chanukah celebrations!

A dreidel (also spelled dreidl or draydel) is a four sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. The game of dreidel is traditionally played during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

You can play this traditional Hanukkah game with your family. All members of the household, from toddlers to senior citizens, can play this simple and fun game together.

Here's How:

1.All players get an equal amount of pennies, chocolate coins (gelt), candies, raisins, or tokens.

2.All players put one token in the pot in the center.

3.The dreidel is a four sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. Players take turns spinning the dreidel.

4.The player acts according to the letter which is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning.

5.The image with the Hebrew letters on the top right of this page is the game key; it shows which Hebrew letter symbolizes which move in the game. Nun means the player does nothing. Gimel means the player takes all the tokens from the pot. Hay means the player takes half of the tokens from the pot. Shin (or Pay in Israel) means the player puts one token into the pot.

6.The winner is the one with the most tokens.

- The Ancient Connection -

Some people maintain that the dreidel game goes back to the time of the Greek-Syrians, and thus is integrally connected to the Hanukkah holiday. Since the Greek-Syrians prohibited the Jews from studying Torah, the Jews needed a way to hide their Torah learning. They used the dreidel as a decoy. When they saw the Greek-Syrians coming, the Jews would hide their books, take out their dreidels, and trick the Syrians into thinking they were just playing a game.

- The European Connection -

While the above story is a wonderful way to link the holiday's history to its modern celebration, the true source of the game is probably European.

In Europe, a gambling game with a spinning top has been played for centuries by various people in various languages. In England and Ireland, the game of totum or teetotum, first mentioned in approximately 1500, was especially popular at Christmastime. The Germans also liked to play a gambling game with a spinning top.

It is believed that the Jewish game of dreidel is a Judaicized version of the German gambling game. The Yiddish word dreidel derived from the German word drehen, which means "to spin."

The letters on the faces of the gambling toy, which were mnemonic for the rules of the game, varied in each nation. The letters on the English spinning top were: T for Take, H for Half, P for Put, N for None. In the German game, the letters were: N for Nichts (nothing), G for Ganz (all), H for Halb (half), S for Stell (put). The Hebrew letters on the dreidel seem to have come directly from the German gambling toy: Nun for Nichts (nothing), Gimel for Ganz (all), Hay for Halb (half), Shin for Stell (put).

In an effort to link the game to the celebration of Hanukkah, the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, hay and shin were said to stand for the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means "a great miracle happened there."

- The Israeli Connection -

With the birth of Israel and the revival of the Hebrew language, Israelis called the dreidel a sivivon. Sivivon comes from the Hebrew word sovev which means "to turn."

Furthermore, Israelis changed the letter shin on the dreidel to the letter pay. Thus, the letters nun, gimel, hay and pay would stand for the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Po, which means "a great miracle happened here."

Unfinished Wood Dreidel - Set of 4


Overview