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What are the Dreidel Rules? – Basic Judaism

It has four sides: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (Shin), and is usually played with coins, chips, or gelt (chocolate coins). These letters also stand for the words Nes Gadol Haya Sham meaning “a great miracle happened there,” or, without the nikkud (vowel marks), נס גדול היה שם (Hebrew is read right to left).

A great miracle happened there

Dreidel The dreidel is associated with Chanukah.

 What is a dreidel – spinning top game.
It has four sides: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (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.”

  • נס גרול היה שס (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