History of the Dreidel explained | TahoeDailyTribune.com

History of the Dreidel explained

Rabbi Evon J. Yakar
Special to the Tribune

The Dreidel has become more and more known on the American scene. It is the children's top that is spun as a game during the Jewish holiday of Hannukah.

It is part of the celebration and it is a learning tool for young people. It is probably a great pedagogic tool for young and experienced (older) alike.

The Dreidel has a few different stories about its beginnings, but what is most important are the Hebrew letters on it and the message it conveys. The four Hebrew letters are an acronym for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" – "A Great Miracle Happened There." It reminds us about the miracle of the Maccabees defeating the Greek-Syrians, rededicating the Ancient Temple and how the oil in the lamps lasted eight days, which was seven days longer than expected.

The Dreidel is all about reminding us each year about the miracles of the season. The phrase, a great miracle happened there, is reviewed each year while spinning the Dreidel. It teaches us about our commitment to sharing that message with others. It gives us the chance to put our own spin (pun intended) on the phrase itself. It is a time to ponder the miracles in our lives and to consider the greatness we can do to recognize miracles. It is a time to remember the past and how we honor it, while being committed to the future. Finally, we must always reflect on our place in the world, asking what is our responsibility to others. In this way, we take the ancient message, "A great miracle happened there," and use it to not only recall the miracles of our past, but also the ways we can commit to a better future. Temple Bat Yam will be celebrating Hannukah at various times. All are welcome to join for the Festival of Lights. Access a calendar at http://www.tbytahoe.org/events/month. For more information, contact the Temple Office at 530-542-1211 or info@tbytahoe.org

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