Playing Dreidel
(Excerpted and condensed from The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays by Malka Drucker)

               Although they could not take very much, immigrant children may have brought a few toys or games with them when theycame to America. Fathers often carved small toys out of wood for their children and gave them as presents. Jewish children coming from Germany or Eastern Europe may have brought such a toy, a wooden top with strange markings, called a Dreidel.  The game of Dreidel is played during Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday, which is celebrated in the winter. Each of the four sides of the Dreidel has a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Nun

Gimel

He

Shin

 

In order to play the game of dreidels...

1. All the players start with a pile of something to play for (i.e.. raisins, beans, ' gummy bears, or any small objects).

2. Each person takes five or so raisins (or beans, gummy bears, etc.) and puts them into a main pile

3. Each player takes a turn spinning the dreidel and seeing what letter lands face up.

Nun: Do nothing.
Gimel: Take the mail pile.
He: Take half the main pile.
Shin: Put half of your pile into the main pile.

4. Each time the main pile is gone, players put five more raisins into it.

5. Players who have nothing left are out of the game, and the winner is the person who outlasts all of the other players.

 

Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society