How to Play Dreidel
How to Play Dreidel

What would Hanukkah be without an exhilarating game of dreidel? Grab your friends, your family, your dreidel and the tokens of your choice, roll up your sleeves and get ready for some dreidel fun! What You'll Need

  • A dreidel
  • Tokens (pennies, raisins, candy or peanuts, for example)
  • A flat playing surface (floor or table)
  • The dreidel
  • The dreidel has a Hebrew letter on each of its four sides. Each letter stands for a word in the phrase 'Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,' but they also stand for Yiddish words denoting game instructions. We've noted them below.
    1. Nun (Nisht) - Player does nothing.
    2. Gimmel (Gantz) - Player takes all of the tokens in the pot.
    3. Hay (Halb) - Player takes half of the tokens in the pot.
    4. Shin (Shtel) - Players add one token to the pot.

    Okay, enough prep. Here's how to play:

    1. Sit around the table or in a circle on the floor.
    2. Everyone starts with the same number of tokens.
    3. Each player puts one token in the center of the playing area (the pot).
    4. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. Use the chart below to determine what to do:
    5. When there are fewer than two tokens in the pot, each player puts one more token in the pot.
    6. Play continues until someone has all the tokens.

    Background: The dreidel reminds us of the miracle of Hanukkah when a few drops of oil miraculously burned for eight days and nights after the Holy Temple was recaptured in 165 B.C.E. The letters on the dreidel stand for the Hebrew words 'Nes Gadol Hayah Sham' (a great miracle happened there). In Israel, the dreidel has a Pay instead of a Shin for 'Nes Gadol Hayah Po' (a great miracle happened here). Get a template to create a custom dreidel that you can print out and play with!