Dreidel (a Yiddush word, in Hebrew it’s sevivon, and in either language means “to turn around”) is a top with four sides. Each side of the dreidel has a different Hebrew letter: Nun, Gimmel, Hey, and Shin. Together the letters are an acronym for the phrase, “Nes gadol haya sham,” “A great miracle happened there.” The “there” signifies Israel, and in Israel, dreidels have a Pey instead of a Shin. The Pey stands for the word “Po,” which means “here.”

Dreidel is a game played all over the world during Chanukah, with any amount of players, and you can play with gelt (gold foil wrapped chocolate coins), or actual coins, nuts, candies, whatever you want. Here are the rules:

Each player has a bunch of pieces of gelt. Everyone puts one piece into the center. The center “pot” may need to be replenished after every round, so every time it’s empty, everyone again puts one piece of gelt in the pot to continue playing. 

Now, it’s time to spin. Each player spins the dreidel, and if the dreidel lands on

Nun: The player does nothing.

Gimmel: The player wins everything in the pot!

Hey: The player takes half of the pot.

Shin: The player puts a piece of gelt in the pot.

If you run out of gelt, you’re out. If you get all the gelt, you win!


Type of Custom: Commentary/Meditations

Holiday/Event: Chanukah

Source: Alison Laichter