What Is a Dreidel? Learning About Jewish Items and Traditions

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Dreidel is the Yiddish for spinning top. A dreidel is a four-sided object with a pointed top that helps it to spin around like a top.

Wood or plastic is the typical material for making dreidels. However, you can get a glass or sterling silver dreidel if you prefer designer types. These are often for exhibitions. 

Dreidel games are customary during the Chanukah holiday.


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What Does It Represent?

The Jewish dreidel represents the miraculous ways God appears in this world. It helps explain several concepts about faith in the Supreme Being.

Firstly, the force at the center of the spinning dreidel is similar to the concept of God enabling everything. It is also a reminder that He is the foundation for life and activity. This is the principal idea that the dreidel captures.

Another idea is that man gets lost when he drifts away from his relationship with God and spirituality. Similarly, the pyrinola lowers and starts to sway when it loses its equilibrium at the central point.

Finally, the force that propels it into motion is not immediately apparent till it begins to spin. This represents how God’s hand expresses itself in natural events.

The four Hebrew characters on each side of a dreidel effectively set it apart from other pyrinolas. The phrase “Nes Gadol Haya Sham,” which translates to “There was a miracle here,” is boldly inscribed on the item.

This comprises the letters Nun, Guimel, Hey, and Shin and relates to the Chanukah miracle, including others that occur daily in the world.


What Do the Symbols on a Dreidel Mean?


What Is a DreidelSome experts have noted that the deeper connotations of the dreidels’ Hebrew characters nun, gimmel, hey, and shin go beyond simply denoting a phrase.

Some theories and experts claim that the four letters on the dreidel represent moments when other kingdoms attempted to exterminate the Jewish people.

Nun portrays Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Jews and sent them to exile after destroying the first Jerusalem temple.

Gimel is an acronym for Gog, a kingdom popularly known as Greece today. The Greeks attempted to annihilate the Jewish faith during Hanukkah.

Hey is a shortened version of Haman, a perverse minister in ancient Persia whose attempt to exterminate all Jews. The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates this event.

Shin represents Seir, or ancient Rome, which destroyed the second Temple in Jerusalem and ended nearly two thousand years of Jewish dominion in Israel.

Other theories also explain the Hebrew letters on the dreidel as representative of the divine aspects of man:


  • Nun is the letter for Nefesh, which is Hebrew for “soul.”
  • Gimmel represents Guf, which translates to “body” in English.
  • Shin is for Sechel and translates to “understanding.
  • Hey represents “Hakol,” the Hebrew word for “everything.” The other three letters make up every aspect of a person’s essential characteristics.


According to the teachings of distinguished Rabbis, these four components of a human being correspond with the kingdoms that attempted to eradicate the chosen people.

The first by the Babylonians was an attack on the freedom of Jews. It commemorates how thousands were imprisoned or sent into exile in Babylon.

That of the Persians was an attack on the Gulf, or body, of Jews. They attempted to woo the Jews with pleasures and turn them away from their beliefs.

To convert traditional Jews, the Greeks attacked the Nefesh, or soul, with re-education. They tried convincing Jews that individuals who worshipped Greek gods comprehended the universe better and were more enlightened.

The Romans used all three methods of attack against the Jewish people. This was the attack on the Hakol.

These inscriptions on a dreidel are a constant reminder of the dangers faced by Jews.

Finally, the survival of the Jewish people after so many centuries of persecution is a true miracle to celebrate.

Jews rejoice that many of them have chosen to obey God’s voice, uphold the Torah, and pass down their beliefs to their offspring, following the customs of their ancestors.

It is a marvel that the Jewish people still exist, considering all the pressure to reject their tradition.


What Does Shin Mean on a Dreidel?


A player must place a piece into the main pot when the dreidel spins and lands on SHIN.

It is Yiddish and translates to “share” in English.


How to Play Dreidel?

There is no limit on the number of people that can play dreidel.

Finding the ideal area to play is the most crucial step. The participants should sit in a circle on wood flooring or around a big, flat, and smooth surface like a kitchen or dining table.

Ensure you are working on a sturdy surface rather than a fragile one; for instance, you wouldn’t want your glass table scratched by a silver dreidel.

Additionally, spinning is not possible on the carpet. The area must be big enough for the dreidel to spin in without falling off the surface. That’s why it’s not ideal to substitute another smooth surface, like a tiny end table or a magazine on a carpet, for a smooth surface.


Dreidel Instructions


You’ll need a few supplies, including a dreidel and other playing components for the game. Players can use anything from pennies to dried beans. Whichever you decide, each player will require roughly 10-15 pieces.


Dreidel Game Rules


  1. Before the game starts, the pieces should be divided for each player to have between 10-15 game pieces.
  2. To make the “pot,” each player places one piece back into the middle.
  3. Each participant spins the dreidel once, with the person with the highest spin going first. The order is officially NUN, followed by GIMEL, HEY, and then SHIN. You are more than allowed to set your terms, though. The play is circular.
  4. Spin the dreidel once when it’s your turn. You donate or receive game pieces from the central “pot” depending on the side the dreidel lands on.
  5. You lose if you run out of pieces.
  6. The game is over when there is only one person left.


Where to Buy a Dreidel Online?


The most popular and well-known dreidels come from Israel and are made of clay. However, there are many other places to buy a dreidel online, including Judaica stores, eBay, Amazon and Etsy.

But we suggest entering our Dreidels category on the website to purchase the most beautiful and the most unique dreidels available in the world, in addition, we are producing Dreidels from a variety of materials such as sterling silver and anodized aluminum in the most spectacular shapes and designs that you can’t even imagine.

For our entire collection of Silver dreidels

For our entire collection of Aluminum dreidels

What Is a Dreidel Used For?

In addition to the traditional Hanukkah technique, many people have experimented with spinning their dreidels for an extended period or with other inventive methods.

During Hanukkah, Major League Dreidel holds competitions in the New York City region. Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of Hanukkah dreidel spinning.

New games that use the dreidel keep popping up in what Jews call the Dreidel Renaissance.

To see our entire collection of Hanukkah gifts

How Is Hanukkah Connected to Dreidel?

Some connections between Hanukkah’s traditions and rituals are simple to identify.

Eating fried latkes and doughnuts, for example, refers to the miracle of the one-day supply of oil that lasted for eight nights. Since the dreidel is not directly connected to Hanukkah and lacks a holiday like other traditions, only symbolism can help Jews understand its significance.

Some think the Greeks are responsible for the dreidel’s connection to Jewish culture.

According to the legend, even though the Greeks forbade studying the Torah, devoted Jews would conceal their activities by pretending to be playing with a spinning top.

However, “Not everyone buys that neat tale,” claims Haaretz.

Aish suggests an alternative lesson from playing with the dreidel at Hanukkah:

The dreidel reflects how Jews — absorbed in the exhausting hustle and bustle of the daily routine — cannot notice the marvels unfolding all around. Only when an individual stops to reflect are their eyes awakened to the wonders that were there the whole time.

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Common Questions and Answers - FAQ

It is recommended to buy a dreidel at a place where you trust the person who sells you the dreidel is using high-quality of Materials and that this place of course has recommendations

The dreidel is a toy that is used to play a traditional game of chance.

There are many different types of dreidels, but the most popular ones are the four-sided dreidel and the five-sided dreidel. The four-sided dreidel is also known as the Jewish spinning top because it has a Hebrew letter on each side.

The five-sided dreidel has Hebrew letters on two opposite faces and a blank face on each end.