I Have Made You Out of Clay

by |
12/20/2007 12:00 PM |

So tonight there’s a non-denominational Dreidel-Spinning Tournament, in which contestants spin that dreidel to compete for mountains of glittering gelt. The top three spinners, with wrists of durable elegance (Will Ferrell movie?), get prizes, and everyone else just gets a regular amount of gelt and a dreidel for their efforts, and their $10 entry fee (benefits the Jewish Child Care Association). It’s at the Sidewalk Cafe, which, yes, does have booze–this is not your elementary school dreidelry–and it goes from 6 to 9pm. That sounds like just barely enough dreidel.

And in case you need to brush up on your dreidel, here are the rules as they appear online:

[The dreidel] has four sides: ? (Nun), ? (Gimel), ? (Hey), ? (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."

* ?? ???? ??? ?? (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

There’s no sharing in dreidel! Go get dry and ready.