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Dreidel: Understanding the Game

November, 2012

Have you ever wondered how to play the popular Hanukkah game of dreidel?

This simple spinning top game is easily enjoyed, and is perfect for all ages. All you need is a dreidel (a top with four Hebrew letters on its sides), a pot (a bowl of pennies, nuts, or candies as reward), and some friends or family members.

Our new video explains the rules of the dreidel game so you can enjoy it this Hanukkah. Plus, we go into the meaning of the letters on the dreidel: what they stand for in Hebrew and how their Yiddish meaning shapes the game's rules.

Have fun and happy Hanukkah!


Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. A language, literally meaning "Jewish," once widely used by Ashkenazi communities. It is influenced by German, Hebrew and Slavic languages, and is written with the Hebrew alphabet. It is comparable to the language of many Sephardi communities, Ladino.
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