Dreidels are square-sided spinning tops used to play a game of chance. The four Hebrew letters, nun (N), gimmel (G), he (H), and shin (SH) illustrated on the sides of the dreidel represent the sentence Nes Godol Hoyoh Shom, A great miracle happened there." Players use coins, beans, or plastic chips to participate, and depending upon which character the top lands on, the player may win small prizes (such as chocolate coins covered in gold foil) or lose a turn. Dreidel is a popular game with children during the Hanukkah season. First celebrated more than 2,000 years ago, Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Syrians and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. When the Jews first re-entered the temple, they only found enough oil to keep the eternal light burning for a single day. Miraculously, the small amount of oil lasted for eight days. Because of this, Hanukkah is known as the "Festival of Lights." It is a holiday that celebrates freedom and the right to uphold one's own beliefs. On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a candle is lit and a blessing is said. Oily foods, like latkes, are eaten to symbolize the importance of the oil. This is a time for families to come together and children to play games, like dreidel, and have fun.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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Jews -- History -- 586 B.C.-70 A.D.
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