Archive for November, 2013

Driedel and Chanukah


The first time I ever heard the word “driedel” was from the Messianic Dance Camp International.


Driedel (哈努卡陀螺玩具)is a traditional Jewish spinning top game usually plays during  Chanukah season.  It has four famous Hebrew alef Bet inscribed on it .  The letters are taken from the first letter of the phrase “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” which translates to “a great miracle happened there”.


The game looks fun and easy. Since ’tis the season for Chanukah celebration, we decided to explore this driedel game and the children seem to have great fun playing with this new game!

The rules of the game are simple and the meaning of the words are in Yiddish – a mixed language of Hebrew and German.

Nun – nisht meaning “nothing” in  Yiddish, player does nothing/skips a turn.

GIMEL – gant meaning “everything” — gets everything in the pot.

HEY – halb or “half” — gets half from the pot (one extra if odd number).

SHIN (or PEH) – stands for shtel, or “put in” — adds a piece to the pot.


Through playing with the driedel, we learned many interesting and historical accounts surrounding Chanukah:

-Chanukah is often celebrated with joy in Jewish Community around the world.

-the Hebrew word “Chanukah” means “dedication”.

-Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Light (光明節; 燭光節) and the Feast of Dedication (獻殿節); (re-dedication of the temple 修殿节).

-the Feast of the Dedication was also observed by Jesus (John 10).

-Judah Maccabee, from the family of priests, fought to recapture the temple of God and rededicated the Holy Temple which was defiled by the pagan invaders who oppress them.

-the great miracle is the miracle of the consecrated olive oil for the lighting of menorah, the golden lamp stand, which was sufficient for one day burning,  lasted for eight days.

-the dates of the Macabees was around the Second Century BCE (167–160 BCE).

– the eight day celebration for this year is from November 27 to December 5.

Here is a great one minute clip on the history of Chanukah.


During Chanukah celebration, children are given “gelt” (money) from the family. In general they are encouraged to practice generosity by donating some of their money towards “tzedakah” (an act of charity).  

The practice of giving gelt is similar to the oriental ways of giving money to children in a red packet during Chinese New Year or birthday celebration.


Sometimes the children are allowed to play the driedel game with their gelt, and the money won are to be used towards tzedakah. 


To commemorate the miracle of the oil, the Chanukah delicacies involve “oil” — eating latkes, deep fried potatoes fritters (土豆絲餅) &  sufganiyot, deep fried jelly doughnuts (無洞甜甜圈).  

Since Chanukah is oil-related, my creative craft sidekick and I decided to burn the midnight oil and rushed a special Chanukah project, not a cooking project though;p



We created our very own Chanukiyah (Chanukah Menorah) just in time to share with the Awana children on the rich meaning of this Festival of Light and the Feast of Dedication. 

Through the story, we are able to tie in and be reminded that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12) and that we are called to be shining lights and sparks of Jesus.


 After the story, the children were encouraged to practice generosity by donating their “gelt” (Awana shares/coupons they earned over this semester) towards “tsedakah”– buying dried foods to be sent to the typhoon Haiyan victims in the Phillippines. 


Here’s another great read on Chanukah, the biblical feast, by Zion of Light.

Thank you “driedel” for teaching us so much about Chanukah celebration!




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