Rosh Chodesh Group Plays Spiritual Dreidl

By Bonnie Lindauer

Rosh Chodesh Kislev was celebrated by eleven women at the home of Flori Green Sunday evening, Nov 27th.  Around the theme of Hanukkah we reflected about the light and darkness in our own lives, played spiritual dreidl and studied a reading about the origin of the dreidl.

Did you know that the dreidl game originally had nothing to do with Hanukah and that it has been played by various peoples in various langauges and cultures for many centuries?The article we read by David Golinkin “On the Origins and Development of Some Hanukkah Customs,” summarized the various explanations that rabbis have offered to find a connection between the dreidl and the Hanukkah story.   But the reality is that all of the explanations were invented after the fact.   The dreidl game is known in other countries by such names as totum or teetotum (England), tutte (Sardinia, Italy) and, torrel or trundel (Germany).  The Eastern European game of dreidl is directly based on the German equivalent of the game.

Mr. Golinkin points out a remarkable irony of Jewish history in relation to the dreidl game.  He states, “In order to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah which celebrates our victory over cultural assimilation, we play the dreidl game which is an excellent example of cultural assimilation.”

But what is spiritual dreidl?  It’s a game of answering four questions.   Each of us took turns spinning the dreidl and then answered a question relating to each of the four letters — nun, gimmel, hei, and shin.  For example, if the dreidl landed on gimmel, the question posed was what is your bounty or abundance in life?  If it landed on nun, the question was what is something in your life you want to lose?  If it landed on hei, the question was what’s both good and bad in your life?  And finally, if it landed on shin, the question to address was what can you put in or give back?   Several women shared that they wanted to lose the clutter in their life and others wanted to lose weight.

Keeping with the theme of light as it relates to Hanukka, our facilitator, Hayley DeLugach, asked us to reflect on and write down what we find in our lives that brings light and what we find that brings darkness.  Sharing these reflections was both personal and emotional at times.  Some responses to what brings us light were gratitude for family, friends, pets and our extended B’nai Emunah family; helping others; and being outdoors in nature.  Loss, physical limitations and illness, and death were offered as sources of darkness.

Our connections were strengthened by the comaraderie,  good discussion, great food and wine that we all enjoyed.

About Gabriele Lange

Multi Media Consultant in SF Bay Area WebDesign at City College 2008-2011 Professional Photographer since 1998 Lived in Berlin, Germany between 1987-1994
This entry was posted in Congregation News, Hanukah, Jewish Holidays and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rosh Chodesh Group Plays Spiritual Dreidl

  1. What a great idea, to expand this game into a spiritual and psychological quest. Although I
    couldn’t be there this month, I will apply these four questions to my personal thinking. I always
    enjoy the comraderie, the food and drink, the interesting ideas and discussions.Our once a month
    meetings are so enjoyable. I hope other women in the congregation try it once who haven’t yet
    come. You feel closer to those you know and see monthly in this sharing format.
    Chaya Roberts

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