How to Play Hanukkah Dreidel: A Definitive Guide (Printable)

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Dreidel a definitive guide

Spinning the dreidel is traditional game played during the eight days of Hanukkah.  I created a helpful printable download that includes clear (and correct) rules of the game and an easy to read dreidel illustration.

Download the Dreidel: Rules of the Game printable here

What is it?

A dreidel is a 4-sided spinning top

Symbols on the Dreidel

Each side of the dreidel is decorated with a Hebrew letter —nun (נ), gimmel (ג), hey (ה), and shin (ש).  These four letters are an acronym for “nes gadol hayah sham”—“a great miracle happened there.”

International Dreidel designSome dreidels also feature a transliteration of each letter like this:

Dreidel transliteration international design

In Israel, the last letter, shin, is replaced with the letter pey (פ), which stands for “po”—”here.”

Driedel Israel design // jewishfoodhero.com

What you need to play:

 

  • 1 dreidel (if you want the game to be more fast-paced, each player can have their own).  If you are playing with small children under 5, using a larger sized dreidel which is easier for them to spin. With older children and adults, a medium sized dreidel works best.
  • A flat surface to spin the dreidel
  • Game pieces which can be any desired object, such as coins.  chocolate gelt or organic jelly beans
  • A plate for every player’s game pieces
  • A platter for the “pot”- the central area where all the game pieces are placed.

Rules of the Game:

Download the Dreidel: Rules of the Game printable here

 

  1. A minimum of two people are needed to play the game.
  2. The game is played in “rounds” where each player takes a turn at spinning the dreidel.
  3. Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces.
  4. Players agree on the spinning order in each round of the game.
  5. The game begins with each player placing one of their game pieces into the joint “pot.”
  6. Each player takes a turn by spinning the dreidel once.  The player takes the action based on which Hebrew letter is facing up when the dreidel lands:
  • If נ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing.
  • If ג (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
  • If ה (he) is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the “larger half”).
  • If ש (shin) or פ (pe) is facing up, the player adds a game piece to the pot.
  1. At the beginning of each new round, each player puts one game piece into the center “pot.”
  2. When, and if, the “pot” is empty or has only one game piece left and the players want to continue the game, each player puts one piece in the “pot.”
  3. The game can end anytime the “pot” is empty.
  4. The “winner” is the player with the most game pieces at the end of the game.

Download Dreidel: Rules of the Game printable here.

Happy Hanukkah!

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