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What are the rules for a Dreidel game?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » The Customs | Subscribe | What is RSS?


There are many ways to play the game; the following is one of the most popular ways:

Everyone puts the ante, usually a penny, nickel or dime, in the pot.

The first person spins the dreidel. (For the sake of shortning the game, many people will knock down the dreidel, instead of waiting the 10-15 seconds for the dreidel to fall itself).

There are four Hebrew letters on the dreidel.

If the dreidel lands on the Nun, nothing happens and the next person spins. Nun stands for the Yiddish word "nisht," which means "nothing."

If the dreidel lands on the gimmel, you win the entire pot and the next round commences. Gimmel stands for the Yiddish word "gantz," which means "whole."

If the dreidel lands on the hay, you take half the pot and the round continues. Hay stands for the Yiddish word "halb," which means "half."

If the dreidel lands on the shin, you have to add the equivalent of the ante to the pot. Shin stands for the Yiddish word "Shenk," which means "give."

TAGS: draidel


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Posted by: David, CA on Dec 05, 2004

So if driedel's letters stand for Yiddish words, it must be pretty recent tradition? At least on the form we know it now? Thank you, david

Editor's Comment

The letters on the draidel are originally an acronym for the Hebrew words "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" (a great miracle happened there). Based on these letters, however, someone invented a game and matched Yiddish words to the letters which were already on the draidel.


Posted by: Chava, Zefat, Holy Israel on Dec 25, 2005

how do we play the game here in israel, where the letters on the dreidels stand for "Nes Gadol Haya PO" - what do we do with the Pei?

Language closely related to German commonly spoken by European Jews.