Dreidel with Gentiles


I started writing this post before the great PICC for port swap on Christmas eve. I am very aware that the holiday season has passed. I still feel compelled to share this story.

Pay attention when a theme presents itself.

Dreidel is the theme.

Dreidels keep popping up this holiday season.

So, what’s a dreidel?  It’s a 4-sided spinning top, of course.

Playing Dreidel with Gentiles

I played dreidel for the first time on December 13th.  In case you didn’t know, dreidel is gambling!!  We played for chocolate coins.

It was a heated game.  We laughed.  We salsa’d.  One of us went bankrupt, twice.  In fact, the ten of us where so involved in the game, that when we finished, I looked up, astonished at the room filled with party guests I hadn’t noticed arriving, and said:  “Where did all these people come from?”  Plus, not one of us truly knew what we were doing except that we wanted the dreidel to land on Gimmel!

Most sigficantly, not one of us playing had ever played before, and none of us were Jewish. We were a mix of Christians, Muslims and Agnostics. It didn’t matter that we were playing a Jewish Hanukkah game, what mattered was that were having fun!

Playing Dreidel.  Photo Credit:  Diana Botsford
Playing Dreidel. Photo Credit: Diana Botsford

Then on December 16th, the first night of Hanukkah, Shane and I had the honor of being included in the annual Texas Familias Council Holiday Celebration.  The council is a local organization with the mission of bringing economic and social integration to the ethnically diverse communities of Montgomery County.  The council’s founder, Maria Banos Jordan, recently returned from Israel.  The keynote speaker was Daniel Agranov, Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Southwest United States.

Included at each place setting was a wooden dreidel.  Mr. Agranov explained that the four sides of the dreidel each had a Hebrew letter, the first letters of the phrase, “Nes gadol hayah sham,” which means “a great miracle happened there.”

Riddle me this?

If the theme is dreidel, and dreidel is gambling, and the symbols on the dreidel are about a miracle, does that mean I need to go to Vegas?

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9 thoughts on “Dreidel with Gentiles”

  1. Thank you for the story. I was a member of a Temple for a little while, and have been attending high holy day ceremonies for years now. I learned a greater appreciation for their people. I am so glad you had fun, and congratulations on the event. I hope to get more involved in my community in such a way. It’s natural for me, it started in my home, am I right? 🙂 Happy new year, Dear Kandas!

  2. Oh, this post is so funny! Vegas sounds good to me! (Although I would go for the warm sun and to visit friends more than for the gambling).

    I played dreidel once with my kids when we were studying Israel in our homeschool, but I think it would be more fun with adults!
    Vick M. recently posted…Don’t Leave Me Hanging!My Profile

  3. Great share. I love when people share their traditions with friends. This is how we grow and become more diverse.
    time together with friends is always good..
    and chocolate loot, even sweeter 🙂

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