"dreidel"

[dreyd -l]

Definition #1 for "dreidel"

A four-sided spinning top, a symbol of Judaism used at Hanukkah.

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Definition #2 for "dreidel"

A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The dreidel is a Jewish variant on the teetotum, gambling toy found in many European cultures. Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ, ג, ה, ש, which together form the acronym for "נס גדול היה שם". These letters also form a mnemonic for the rules of a gambling game played with a dreidel: Nun stands for the Yiddish word nisht, Hei stands for halb, Gimel for gants, and Shin for shtel ayn. In Israel, the fourth side of most dreidels is inscribed with the letter פ, rendering the acronym, נס גדול היה פה, Nes Gadol Hayah Poh—"A great miracle happened here" referring to the miracle occurring in the land of Israel. Some stores in Haredi neighborhoods sell the ש dreidels. According to Jewish tradition, when the Jews were in caves learning Torah, hiding from the Greeks, dreidel became a popular game to play. Legend has it that when the teacher would hear the Greek soldiers approaching, he would instruct the children to hide their torah scrolls and take out their dreidels instead.

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