Several readers have asked us, What is that game that Jewish people play with that spinning top at Hanukkah?”

Well, the game is dreydel, and if you have children or are a kid at heart, why not learn to play?

What you need:

  • A dreydel (four-sided Hanukkah top). Each side is decorated with a Hebrew letter, representing a word to form the sentence “nes gadol haya sham” explained on page 1. (to pronounce: nes rhymes with bless, gadol rhymes with the whole, haya is pronounced hi ya, and sham rhymes with prom).
  • Something for the center pile or “pot” (usually chocolate coins, peanuts or some other treat). The treats are divided evenly among the players, each person putting one piece into the pot.

What you do:

Decide how long to play or how many turns each player will take. The one with the most pieces at the end of the game wins the “pot.”

Take turns spinning the dreydel. The letter it lands on determines what each player does:

Nun means “do nothing.”
Gimel means “take everything that’s in the pot.”
Hay means “take half of what is in the pot.”
Shin means “put a piece into the pot.”