Originally published by
The Game of Dreidel
Published by Canadian Parents on 2010/11/18
While our family celebrates Christmas, we have always enjoyed sharing all religious and cultural celebrations with our kids. When our children were very young we had the book Hanukkah Lights by Dian G. Smith, which helped them to understand there are more traditions than just those our family celebrates. The story took us through the eight days of Hanukkah and introduced us to the game of dreidel, a traditional Jewish game enjoyed during Hanukkah.
Our daughter pointed out the dreidel game in the story and asked if we could play. If I recall, we found our dreidel soon after at a craft fair. It is made of wood and after many years, is still part of our holiday season, in fact, we play dreidel most nights in December.
The four Hebrew letters N-G-H-S which appear on the dreidel (game piece) stand for Nes (Miracle), Gadol (Great), Haya (Happened) and Sham (In Israel) or, A great miracle occurred here. And although the game is fun for all who play, for many it acts as a reminder of the miracle of the oil that was to last for just one day, instead it kept the menorah lit for eight days.
How to play:
1. Divide the “gelt” evenly among players. We use chocolate coins but holiday candies or pennies also work well. Try to have enough pieces to allow a minimum of 5 pieces per player.
2. The game starts with the youngest player and continues until one player has all of the gelt.
3. On your turn you put a piece (or pieces, it is up to the person who is playing his turn) of gelt into the “kupah” (the pot or middle of the table) each player must match the amount. The player spins the driedel and depending on what side of the dreidel lands facing up, he gets, gives, or does nothing.
* Nun – nothing happens, the player passes the dreidel to the next player.
* Gimel – he player collects all of the gelt in the kupah and his turn is over.
* Hay – the player gets half of what is in the kupah and his turn is over.
* Shin – the player has to put another piece of gelt into the kupah before his turn is over.
Wondering where you can find a dreidel? Look for them at craft fairs where you’ll find a great selection of unique dreidels. I have also spotted them in several stores including the dollar store at at department stores with holiday decorations. If you can’t find one, do a google search, you’ll find directions for making one or pickup a craft kit and paint your own.
Originally published on Canadian Parents
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