The Dreidel Game

When King Antiochus prohibited the study of Torah (bible), Jews were forced to teach in secret. If one of the soldiers seemed to be approaching, they would quickly hide their scrolls and take out their dreidels, pretending to be playing.

On the sides of the “spinning top,” called a dreidel, there is a different Hebrew letter on each side. They are called Nun, Gimmel, Hay and Shin. These stand for the saying, “Ness Gadol Haya Sham.” In Hebrew, it means “A great miracle happened there.” It is traditionally a gambling game, but besides pennies you can use nuts or Cheerios.

Keep reading for the rules!

1. Everyone contributes an equal amount of pennies, nuts, Cheerios, etc. to the “pot.”

2. Each person takes a turn spinning the dreidel. The following actions are taken depending on what side ends up on top:

  • “Nun” = do nothing
  • “Gimmel” = take the whole pot
  • “Hay” = take half the pot
  • “Shin” = pay into the pot

3. When the pot is empty, everyone contributes equally to the pot and the game resumes.

Learn more about Hanukkah here.