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The Dreidel game is one of the most well-known games associated with Judaism, specifically with Hanukkah. This game actually served as a way to save the lives of Jewish children during the rule of the Syrian-Greeks who banned the study of Torah during the period of time during which the events of the Hanukkah story occurred. The game is now played in remembrance of the extreme measures taken to ensure that the knowledge of the Torah would not be forgotten.

What is a Dreidel?

A Dreidel is a four-sided top that has a Hebrew letter on each side. The combinations of letters consist of Nun Gimmel Hey, Shin, or Nun Gimmel, Hey, Peh. The Hebrew letters are acronyms for a phrases “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” and “Nes Gadol Haya Poh”, which refer to the miracles of Hanukkah, both regarding the oil and them miraculous military victory the Maccabees had over the Greeks. The difference between the two phrases is that the first version is common on Dreidels made outside of Israel while the second appears on Dreidels made in Israel. The Dreidel also has a tall spinner and has a pointed bottom.


Dreidels can be made of almost any material imaginable. The most common Dreidels are made from wood or plastic. Less common Dreidels are made from precious metals such as nickel, silver, pewter or copper or materials such as crystal.


Dreidels are usually brightly colored and come in shades of blue, green, red, purple, yellow and pink amongst many other colors as well as in striped patterns. The Hebrew similarly can be in any color and are usually above, below or surrounded by depictions of Jerusalem, the Seven Species and Menorahs that are likewise usually brightly colored. In addition, the Dreidel can be shaped like Stars of David, crowns, spirals or flowers.

Metal Dreidels that are made from sterling silver, pewter and copper are often decorated with the same decorations as those made from other materials but may also feature decorations such as filigree scrollwork and Hamsas. These Dreidels also frequently feature small crystals and stones in colors such as blue, purple and red.


Large-sized Dreidels made from materials such as wood can be personalized with names or Judaica items that can be painted on its sides around the Hebrew text. Large Sized Dreidels can also be collector items, especially if they are personalized.

More Information

For more information on Dreidels, the holiday of Hanukkah, or Hanukkah Candles, feel free to browse through World of Judaica's Hanukkah learning page or contact our Judaica experts with any questions or concerns.

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