How to Play Dreidel on Hanukkah




About: Former Instructables employee CHECK OUT MY WORK

Enjoy this fun Jewish tradition this Hanukkah. Play with the family while eating potato latkes and singing songs!!

Chanukah 2010: December 1-9

All you need is a dreidel and Hanukkah gelt.

Step 1: The Story of Dreidel

The game of dreidel originated during the rule of the Greek King Antiochus.  During this time laws were passed to ban the study of the Torah and other Jewish traditions.  When Jews would gather to study the Torah they would bring a top with them. If soldiers came, they would hide what they were studying and pretend to be playing gambling games with the top.

Step 2: Dreidel Song

Sing this song while playing dreidel or lighting the menorah.

I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
When it's dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.

It has a lovely body, with legs so short and thin.
When it gets all tired, it drops and then I win!
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, with leg so short and thin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it drops and then I win!

My dreidel's always playful. It loves to dance and spin.
A happy game of dreidel, come play now let's begin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it loves to dance and spin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel. Come play now let's begin

Step 3: Sides of the Dreidel

There are four sides of a dreidel.  Each side has a letter from the Hebrew alphabet.

Nun = stands for the Yiddish word 'nite' which means "nothing"
Gimel = stands for the Yiddish word 'gantz" which means"everything"
Hay = stands for the Yiddish word 'halb' which means "half"
Shin = stands for the Yiddish word 'shtel' which means "put in"

These letters form an acronym that stand for:
Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – "a great miracle occurred there"

Step 4: Rules of the Game

1. Start with as many players as you like.

2. Each player gets the same amount of Hannukah gelt (gelt: Yiddish for money).  You can use anything for gelt including coins, candy, etc...  I have traditionally used chocolate coins as my Chanukah gelt.

3. At the beginning of each round, everyone puts one piece of gelt into the pot in the middle of the circle.  When ever the pot empties through out the game everyone will put other piece of gelt into the pot.

4.  Go around the circle taking turns.  When it is your turn, spin the dreidel.  The letter the dreidel lands on determines the players move.

Nun = player does nothing
Gimel = player takes the pot
Hay = player takes half the pot
Shin = player puts a piece of gelt into the pot

5.  You are out when you have no pieces in the pot.  You win when you have the entire pot.

Step 5: Have Fun!

We had fun playing dreidel in the office!



    • Beauty Tips Contest

      Beauty Tips Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest
    • Paint Challenge

      Paint Challenge

    6 Discussions

    Fun to learn a bit of history, and a new game! Thanks, great instructable with history, fun and only a bit of work to make one's own dreidel (got some left over sugru! (hum-m-m-m)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is really great. Thanks so much for sharing and the bit of history to go with it. I love to share other cultures and traditions with my kids so this is wonderful. Happy Hanukkah a bit early. Off to search for an ible on making a dreidel :)