How to Play Dreidel for Nannies and Au Pairs

Everyone Loves Playing Dreidel

You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love Playing Dreidel

One of the most popular games most children (Jewish or not) love learning to play is dreidel. Here are instructions on how to play dreidel from A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration (which can be purchased below) published by the Shalom Hartman Institute and Devora Publishing.

The Hebrew word for dreidel is sevivon, which means to turn around. Dreidels have four Hebrew letters on them meaning, “a great miracle occurred there.” Playing with the dreidel is a traditional Hanukkah game played in Jewish homes all over the world, and rules may vary.

Here’s how to play the basic dreidel game:

1. Any number of people can take part in this great game.

2. Each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10-15) such as pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, matchsticks, etc.

3. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot.” In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.

4. Every time it’s your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot:

a) Nun means “nisht”or “nothing.” The player does nothing.

b) Gimmel means “gantz”or “everything.” The player gets everything in the pot.

c) Hey means “halb”or “half.” The player gets half of the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one).

d) Shin means “shtel” or “put in.” Peh (in Israel) means “pay.” The player adds a game piece to the pot.

5. If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either “out” or may ask a fellow player for a “loan.”

Dreidel Song Lyrics

I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay, And when it’s dry and ready, Then dreidel I shall play.

*Chorus: Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel I made it out of clay, Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, Then dreidel I shall play. *

It has a lovely body, With legs so short and thin, And when it is all tired, It drops and then I win.

*(chorus) *

My dreidel’s always playful, It loves to dance and spin, A happy game of dreidel, Come play, now let’s begin.

*(chorus) *

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