I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready
Then, dreidel I shall play.

The Dreidel is a four sided top, with a single Hebrew letter on each of
its sides. Before the game begins, all players are given an equal number
of coins or candies. Each player makes an initial deposit of coins or
candies to the middle of the circle and then takes a turn spinning the
Dreidel. When it falls, depending on the Hebrew letter that is facing
up, the following occurs:

Nun: Nothing happens, on to the next player.
Gimmel: The player wins the pot.
Hey: The player takes half the pot.
Shin: The player must put a coin/candy in to the pot.

Gambling?! On a Jewish holiday?

When the Syrian-Greeks ruled Judea (c. 167 BCE), they banned the study
of Torah. The Jewish people defiantly continued to study and to teach
their children. Under the threat of death, the children and their
teachers met in secret, with a lookout to watch for soldiers. When the
enemy approached, the books were quickly hidden and the Jews pretended
to be gambling.

The letters on the Chanukah dreidel spell out Neis Gadol Hayah Sham, A Great Miracle Happened There (referring to Israel). In Israel, therefore, dreidels have a Pey instead of a Shin, representing the word Poh, which means Here, since the miracle actually occurred in the land of Israel.

So go ahead, gather a few friends, spend a few pennies and spin the dreidel without any guilt.

To learn more about Chanukah in general, please visit www.njop.org

This Treat is posted each year in honor of Chanukah.

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