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Hanukkah Driedel

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The driedel is one of the best representations of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. It is this time of year that Jews around the world celebrate their triumph over persecution and remembering a miracle that happened a long time ago. Dreidel is a Yiddish word that comes from the German word drehen, which means to spin or turn. In Hebrew the dreidel is called a sevivon, which comes from the root savov and also means to turn.

It is this holiday that children play a popular game of chance that involves spinning a toy top and betting on which of the four sides it will stop when the dreidel stops spinning.  Each side has a Hebrew letter imprinted on it, NUN - Lose his turn, the top passes to the next player, GIMEL - Win all the pot, HEY - Win half the pot, SHIN (or PEH) - Lose all of his coins. The letters on the dreidel, Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Shin, stand for the Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means A Great Miracle Happened There. (when outside of Israel). Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Peh, which stand for A Great Miracle Happened Here (when inside of Israel)

Children play for candies or handful of pennies or chocolate money called gelt, though modern traditions prefer the gelt. (Chocolate coins covered in gold colored tin foil) To begin the game, each player is given an equal number of gelt pieces or candy, nuts, etc. usually 10-20, then each person puts one piece of candy in the middle of the table or pot then take turns spinning the dreidel When only one piece of candy or no candy is left in the middle each player adds another piece of candy. In the end, the player who has all the candy wins.

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