Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

When I was growing up we lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the west end of Ottawa. Many of my friends were Jewish and I always loved going over to their houses during Hanukkah to marvel at the beautiful menorahs, sample some delicious latkes (fried potato pancakes) and play Dreidel, the classic Hanukkah game. It is basically a game of chance. The dreidel is essentially a small top that is spinned on a hard surface until it lands on one of four sides. Each of the sides has a Hebrew symbol that denotes a certain quantity: Nun means “nisht” or “nothing” in Yiddish; Gimmel means “gantz” or “everything” in Yiddish; Hay means “halb” or “half” in Yiddish; Shin means “shtel” or “put in” in Yiddish.

Each player contributes some sort of loot (gelt) to a pot; it could be money, candy, pretzels, small toys, etc. Depending on what symbol the dreidel lands upon, the player must either miss a turn (nun), take everything from the pot (gimmel), take half of what’s in the pot (hay) or put something else into the pot (shin.) For a complete list of rules, click here.

It is not so much the game but the dreidels themselves that interest me. I love the design of many items associated with Jewish holidays and dreidels are no exception. I have a small collection of dreidels that was sent to me by my friend Ronnie Elgavish in Tel Aviv – beautiful wooden dreidels that are hand painted with pretty designs. I love them and I put them out on the mantel each year during the holidays. Below are five beautiful variations on the humble dreidel for your consideration this week. Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving!




Happy Hanukkah!

Check out our B. 1802 hand-crafted, modular menorah.  Click here

by Andrew

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Julia Walter

The third one– the silver one– is an Israeli dreidel. I can tell because the letters stand for the acronym “A great miracle happened there.” In Israel in instead of a shin, there’s a peh. It means “a great miracle happened here.”

Beverly Nan Murphy

Lovely works of art and two holidays for the price of one. Joy to all at Beekman.