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MileChai --> Judaica --> Judaism --> How to play the Dreidel Game

The dreidel is associated with the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

It has four sides: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (Shin), and is usually played with coins, chips, or gelt (chocolate coins). These letters also stand for the words Nes Gadol Haya Sham meaning "a great miracle happened there," or, without the nikkud (vowel marks), נס גדול היה שם (Hebrew is read right to left)

also see:

Chanukah rituals Dreidel Rules What is Chanukah?
Chanukah Cards   What is Menorah?

A great miracle happened there

Dreidel The dreidel is associated with Chanukah.

 What is a dreidel - spinning top game.
It has four sides:
נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (Shin), and is usually played with coins, chips, or gelt (chocolate coins). Collectively, these letters are interpreted as, "a great miracle happened there," or, without the nikkud.

In Israel, one letter on the dreidel are different. The shin has been replaced with a pei, transforming the Hebrew phrase into Nun, Gimel, Hey, Po.
A great miracle happened here.
  • נס גרול היה שס (hebrew is read right to left)

Before beginning, each player starts with 10 or 15 coins, and then each player puts one in the pot. Before spinning the dreidel each player deposits a fixed proportion of the amount received into a "kupah" or kitty. One of the players spins the dreidel. The dreidel stops and lands with one of the symbols facing up and the appropriate action is taken:

  • Nun - nischt - "nothing" - the next player spins
  • Gimel - gantz - "all" - the player takes the entire pot
  • Hey - halb - "half" - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
  • Shin - shtel - "put in" - the player puts one or two in the pot

Each player is given a turn to spin the dreidel. The game may last until one person has won everything.

Hand Made Dreidel Great Miracle Happened Here

Click here to view large image
Chanukah Chocolate  Gelt

Chanukah hanukkah hanukah chanukkah menorah festival of lights Chanukiah
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Jerusalem Stone handmade Dreidel Menorah

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Sterling Silver - Electroformed Dreidel

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10 Assorted Dreidels

Aharon's Books and Judaica for Dreidels 600 South Holly Street #106 Denver, Colorado
303-322-7435 or 720-362-3497


Denver is a mile high. There's a spot on the steps of the State Capitol building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level.


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