Gather family and friends to play this traditional Hanukkah game.

Oh, Dreidel I Will Play

Nun, gimel, he, and shin stand for the words Nes gadol haya sham, meaning "A great miracle happened there." (Israeli dreidels replace the letter shin with pe: Nes gadol haya poh, meaning "A great miracle happened here.") The miracle refers to the burning of oil, which lasted eight days -- instead of one -- when the Jews rededicated the Temple upon defeating the Syrians in 165 B.C. Today, Jews spin the dreidel to celebrate Jewish survival, as well as the turning of life events.

What You Need:

You probably wouldn't let the kidsplay with these antique dreidels; try making one instead.
  • dreidel
  • Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins), raisins, nuts, candy, or coins


1. Divide gelt. Divide the coins, raisins, candy, or nuts equally among players.

2. Start game. Each player puts one piece into the center "pot."

3. Spin dreidel. The first player spins the dreidel. If the dreidel lands on: Nun = the player does nothing (remember: "nothing") Gimel = the player takes everything in the pot (remember: "get" He = the player takes half of the pieces in the pot (remember: "half") Shin = the player puts in one piece (remember: "share")

4. Increase pot. Before the next player spins the dreidel, each player puts another piece into the pot.

5. Play continues until one person wins all the pieces.

Dreidel Variations

  • Time each player's spin of the dreidel. See whose dreidel spins the longest.
  • See if anyone can spin the dreidel upside down.