Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana

Why Do We Blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana?


For every five Jews there are ten reasons for blowing the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. The Orthodox have their reasons, the Conservatives have their reasons, the Reformed have their reasons, the Reconstructionists have their reasons. Everyone has their reasons! For Humanistic Judaism, Rosh Hashana is a time of looking backwards and looking forwards. Backwards at the year we have just finished, forward at the new year to come. A good time for reflection. A good time for commitment. And so there are a few reasons why we Humanistic Jews blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana.

1. Because our Ancestors blew the Shofar on Rosh Hashana!

The attitude of “We’ve always done it that way!” is not always helpful, we know. Clinging to the past can be a problem, if it gets us stuck there and prevents us from enjoying the present or moving into the future. But “Tradition” is not all bad! It helps us remember who we are, where we came from, and the generations who lived and died in this world so that we might also live and die, and pass on a heritage to generations yet to come.

In the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra – and He spoke), our Ancestors proclaimed:

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying:
In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. Ye shall do no manner of servile work; and ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

and in the Book of Numbers (Bamidbar – in the Wilderness):

And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you

You want the chapter and verse for these proclamations? Better you should look it up yourself!

As our ancestors did before us, so we do, and so shall our children shall do after us. It is a way of remembering that we are Jews, and proclaiming that memory to the ages.

2. It is our Annual Alarm Clock!

From the end of the High Holidays to their beginning, we go through all the rest of the year about our business of living. And we do not always remember the important things. Especially, we may grow lax in the three principles of Rosh Hashana: Teshuvah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah.

Teshuvah (Returning): A return to our true selves, an honest self-evaluation of the life we have lived during the past year.

Tefillah (Repentance): Being honest about our ethical failures, what can we do in the year ahead to improve?

Tzedakah (Charitable Giving): Giving of ourselves to others in need is a moral obligation, and by offering hope and healing to others, we ourselves become better persons.

Of course we intend to practice Teshuvah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah every day of the year! But, sometimes we forget, sometimes we fall asleep. The Shofar is our alarm clock.

3. It Makes a lot of Noise!

The ending of the old year is a time of celebration! And what is a celebration without a lot of Noise? On The fourth of July we shoot off fireworks. On Decmeber 31, the civil New Year, we blow horns and employ noisemakers of all kinds. On Erev Rosh Hashana, we blow the Ram’s Horn! For our ancient Ancestors, back before our Jewish ones, all this noise on New Year’s Eve had another important purpose: to scare away any evil spirits that might slip into the world through the crack between the old year and the new. Could this be helpful today? Who knows? It couldn’t hurt!

4. It Honors the King!

Okay, today most of us do not have a king. But our Ancestors did. And whenever the King showed up, trumpets were blown. Today we blow the Shofar to honor what is regal in every human being!

5. The Primal Scream!

Some people say the Shofar sounds like a primal scream out of the depths of time. And they are right. It is the scream of humanity born of fear, hope, rage, joy – the eternal cry for meaning in this universe where we find ourselves.

You know, we could go on and on. Doubtless you know many other good reasons for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, from announcing dinner is served, to reminding our neighbors there are Jews in the neighborhood, to simply “that’s what my family (or my congregation) always did.”

But most of all, it is to proclaim L’Shana Tovah: For A Good Year, a Sweet Year, a Year of Joy and Hope!

~ Walter William Melnyk
Rosh Hashana 5778

Learn a Little Yiddish; Couldn’t Hurt, Nu?

Learn a Little Yiddish

Selected Yiddish Words and Phrases – impress your friends and family

keep-calm-and-speak-yiddish-3A BI GEZUNT: So long as you’re healthy. Expression means, “Don’t worry so much about a problem, whatever it is. You’ve still got your health.”

ALTER COCKER: An old and complaining person, an old fart.

AY-YAY-YAY: A Joyous, or at times sarcastic, exclamation.

BALABUSTA: The wife of an important person or a bossy woman.

BEI MIR BIST DU SHAYN: To me you’re beautiful.

BERRYER: Denotes a woman who has excellent homemaking skills. Considered a compliment in the pre-feminist era.


BOBBEMYSEH: Old wive’s tales, nonsense.

BOYCHICK: An affectionate term for a young boy.

BROCHE: A prayer.

BUBBA: A grandmother.

BUBBALA: A term of endearment, darling.

BUPKES: Something worthless or absurd.

CHAYA: An animal. “Vilda Chaya,” a wild animal, is a term used to describe unruly children.

CHAZEREI: Food that is awful, junk or garbage.

CHUTZPAH: Nerve; gall, as in a person who kills her parents and asks for mercy because she is an orphan.

DRECK: Shit. Can refer to the ugliness of objects or people.

ESS: Eat.

FAYGALA: A male homosexual. (literally, little bird.)

FERBLUNJIT: Lost, mixed up.

FERCOCKT: All fucked up.

FERDRAYT: Dizzy, confused.

FARPITZS: All dressed up.

FERMISHT: All shook up, as in an acute disturbance.

FERSHLUGINA: Beaten up, messed up, no good.

FERSHTAY?: Do you understand.

FERSHTINKINER: A stinker, a louse.

FERTUMMELT: Befuddled, confused.

FRESS: To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity. (Compare with ess, to eat like a human being.)

GAVALT: A cry of fear or a cry for help. Oy Gevalt is often used as expression meaning “oh how terrible.”

GAY AVEK: Go away, get out of here.

GAY GA ZINTA HATE: Go in good health. Often said in parting but can be spoken with irony to mean, “go do your own thing.”

GAY SHLAFEN: Go to sleep.

GELT: Money.

GONIF: A thief, a tricky clever person, a shady character.

GOY: A derogatory term meaning gentile, goyim is the plural, and goyisher is the adjective.

GREPSE: To belch.

GORNISHT: Nothing. Often used in a sarcastic manner, as in what did you get from her? Gunisht.

HAYMISH: Informal, friendly. A haimisher mensch is someone you feel comfortable with.

HOK A CHAINIK: To talk too much, to talk nonsense.

KIBITZ: To offer comments which are often unwanted during a game, to tease or joke around. A kibitzer gives unasked for advice.

KINE-AHORA: A magical phrase to ward off the evil eye or to show one’s praises are genuine and not tainted by envy.

KISHKA: Intestines, belly. To hit someone in the “kishka” means to hit him in the stomach or guts.

KLUTZ: An awkward, uncoordinated person.

KOSHER: Refers to food that it prepared according to Jewish law. More generally kosher means legitimate.

KVELL: To beam with pride and pleasure, Jewish parents are prone to kvell over their children’s achievements.

KVETCH: To annoy or to be an annoying person, to complain.

LOCH IN KOP: Literally a hole in the head, refers to things one definitely does not need.

LUFTMENSH: A dreamer, someone whose head is in the clouds.

LUZZEM: Leave him be, let her or him alone.

MACH SHNEL: Hurry up.

MACHER: An ambitious person; a schemer with many plans.

MAVEN: An expert, a connoisseur.

MAZEL TOV: Good luck, usually said as a statement of support or congratulations.

MEESA MASHEENA: A horrible death. The phrase “a messa mashee af deer” means a horrible death to you and is used as a curse. Some have suggested that Masheena is the origin for the insulting name for Jews of sheeny.

MEESKAIT: A little ugly one; a person or thing.

MEGILLAH: Long, complicated and boring.

MENSCH: A person of character. An individual of recognized worth because of noble values or actions.

MESHUGGE or MESHUGGINA: Crazy, refers to a more chronic disturbance.

MISHEGOSS: Inappropriate, crazy, or bizarre actions or beliefs.

MISHPOCHA: Family, usually extended family.

MOMZER: A bastard, an untrustworthy person.

MOYL: The man who circumcises baby boys at a briss.

NACH A MOOL: And so on.

NACHES: Joy. To “shep naches” means to derive pleasure. Jewish children are expected to provide their parent with naches in the form of achievement.

NAFKA: A whore.

NARRISHKEIT: Foolishness, trivia.

NEBBISH: An inadequate person, a loser.

NOODGE: To bother, to push, a person who bothers you.

NOSH: To snack. NOSHERYE refers to food.

NU: Has many meanings including, “so?; How are things?; how about it?; What can one do?; I dare you!”

NUDNIK: A pest, a persistent and annoying person.

ONGEPOTCHKET: Messed up, slapped together without form, excessively and unesthetically decorated.

OY-YOY-YOY: An exclamation of sorrow and lamentation.

OY VEY: “Oh, how terrible things are”. OH VEZ MEAR means “Oh, woe is me”.

PISHER: A bed-wetter, a young inexperienced person, a person of no consequence.

PLOTZ: To burst, to explode, “I can’t laugh anymore or I’ll “plotz.” To be aggravated beyond bearing.

POTCHKA: To fool around; to be busy without a clear goal.

PUPIK: Belly button.

PUTZ: A vulgarism for penis but most usually used as term of contempt for a fool, or an easy mark.

RACHMONES: Compassion.

SAYKHEL: Common sense.

SCHLOCK: A shoddy, cheaply made article, something thats been knocked around.

SCHMALTZ: Literally chicken fat. Usually refers to overly emotional and sentimental behavior.

SCHMUCK: A vulgarism for penis, strong putdown for a jerk, a detestable person.

SHADKHEN: a professional matchmaker.

SHANDA: A shame, a scandal. The expression “a shanda fur die goy” means to do something embarrassing to Jews where non-Jews can observe it.

SHAYGETS: A gentile boy and man, also means a clever lad or rascal.

SHAYNER: Pretty, wholesomely attractive, as in shayner maidel (woman.)

SHIKSA: A gentile girl or woman.

SHLEMIEL: A dummy; someone who is taken advantage of, a born loser.

SHLEP: To carry or to move about. Can refer to a person, a “shlepper,” who is unkempt and has no ambition.

SHLIMAZL: A chronically unlucky person, a born loser, when a shlimazl sells umbrella the sun comes out.

SHMENDRICK: A weak and thin pipsqueak. The opposite of mensch, a a physically small shlemiel.

SHMEGEGGE: A petty person, an untalented person.

SHMATTA: A rag, often used as a putdown for clothes of the unfashionably dressed.

SHMEER: To spread as in to “shmeer” butter on bread. Can also mean to bribe and can refer to the “whole package”, as in I’ll accept the whole shmeer.

SHMOOZ: To hang out with, a friendly gossipy talk.


SHNORRER: A begger, a moocher, a cheapskate, a chiseler.

SHNOZ: A Nose. Jimmy Durante was known as a the great shnoz.

SHTETL: A Jewish ghetto village.

SHTIK: A stick or thing. Often refers to an individual’s unique way of presenting themselves, as in “She is doing her shtik.”

SHTUNK: A stinker, a nasty person or a scandalous mess.

SHTUP: An expression for sexual intercourse, to “screw.”

SHVITZ: To sweat, also refers to a Turkish bath house. A shvitzer means a braggart, a showoff.

SHVANTZ: A word for penis.

SPIEL: To play, as in to play a game.

TCHOTCHKA: An inexpensive trinket, a toy. Can also mean a sexy but brainless girl. The affectionate diminutive is tchotchkala.

TSETUMMELT: Confused, bewildered.

TSIMMES: A side dish, a prolonged procedure, an involved and troubling business, as in the phrase, “don’t make a tsimmes out of it.”

TSORISS: Suffering, woes.

TSUTCHEPPENISH: Something irratating that attaches itself like an obsession. She has a tsutcheppenish that is driving everyone crazy.

TUCHES: Backside, ass, “tuches lecker” means ass kisser, one who shamelessly curries favor with superiors.

TUMMEL: Noise, commotion, disorder.

UNGABLUZUM: To look as if one is going to cry.

VER CLEMPT: All choked up.

VUS MACHS DA: What’s happening? What’s up?

YENTA: A busybody, usually refers to an older woman.

YENTZ: Course word for sexual intercourse. Also means to cheat or screw someone. Yentzer is the noun.

ZAFTIG: Juicy, plump. Can refer to food, ideas or people. A buxom woman.

ZIE GA ZINK: Wishing someone good health.

ZETZ: A strong blow or punch.

ZEYDE: Grandfather, or old man.

ZHLUB: An insensitive, ill-mannered person, a clumsy individual.

Marty Fiebert Department of Psychology CSULB

Gai feifen afenyam/Gai kakhen afenyam
go whistle in the ocean/go shit in the ocean
(Go jump in a lake. I think the second version is more common, but try telling that to a skittish editor.)

Zolst ligen in drerd! :You should lie in the earth! (Drop dead.)

Ver derharget: Get killed (Drop dead)

Gey gezunterheyt: Go in good health
(Yeah, go do whatever you like. Fine, don’t listen to me. See if I care anymore.)

Gornisht helfn: Beyond help

Lokh in kop: Hole in the head

Tokhis oyfn tish: Put up or shut up

A brokh tsu dayn lebn.: Your life should be a disaster

A khalerye: A plague on you

A shaynem dank dir im pupik.: Many thanks in your belly button.
(Thanks for nothing. Say it fast and it sounds delightfully insulting.)

Ikh hob dir in drerd: Go to hell

A shvarts yor: A miserable year
(you should have…)

Alter kaker: Old shit
(Old fart)

Mamzer: Bastard

Schmuck: S.O.B.

Tsatskele: Bimbo

Tokhis leker: Ass-kisser

Shtup: Have sex. Screw. Boink.

Tokhis: Derriere

Zaftik: Stacked

Alivay: It should only happen

Farshtinkener: Rotten
(awful person)

God-Optional Judaism

A newly revised book of “Alternatives for Cultural Jews,” by Secular Humanistic Rabbi Judith Seid.

“God-Optional Judaism” is a wonderful, chock-full respource for families and individuals who want to find their place in the Jewish world without necessarily believing in God.  Funny, accessible, and open-minded, the book touches on key elements of Jewish history and philosophy, all of the major holidays (food recipes included!), and contemporary issue of intermarriage, education, conversion, feelings towards Israel, and spirituality.

Available through Jewish Currents:

Judaism God Optional



A Community for Secular Jews

Do you identify as Jewish but consider yourself non-religious?

Secular Humanistic Jews are interested in Jewish history and culture and in celebrating the traditional holidays and observing the rites of passage in a non-theistic way.

000hj2People of the Mountain – Am HaHar – is a small local Humanistic Jewish group in the Sewanee/Monteagle area. We meet together to celebrate the Jewish holidays, offer occasional educational opportunities (such as Challah baking) and support each other in living out our Jewish heritage. We are associated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism. You can find out more about us on our website, .

Perhaps we can be a home for you.


Pavel’s Violin is now Available

Pavel’s Violin is now available on Amazon

All Proceeds go to the US Holocaust Museum.

Pavel Cover FrontList Price: $24.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
466 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1539335221 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1539335224
BISAC: Fiction / Historical / General
From 1942 – 1945, Paul (Pavel, in Czech) was a prisoner in the Terezin and Auschwitz concentration camps. He survived the camps, and the final Death March from Auschwitz. Pavel had been a violinist before the war, and after his escape his brother found a “not so new but nice” violin for Pavel to play. Pavel lost many members of his family in the camps, but a few survived. A descendent of one of those survivors inherited the violin and, many years later, became my violin teacher. This is how I came to play “Pavel’s Violin.” The violin itself is a beautiful Jakob Stainer model, built perhaps in the mid-1800s. In the novel, it is made by Stainer in 1670, and we trace its journey from Stainer’s home in Absam, Austria, to the Prince-Bishop’s Palace in Kromeriz, Moravia, to the Jewish community in the Moravian countryside, to the great synagogue at Olomouc, to Terezin, then Auschwitz, and finally to the Carpathian Mountain, where it finally becomes “Pavel’s Violin.” Along the way, the Violin is a metaphor for the human condition: our joys, fears, sorrows, hatred, loves, and our hope for a good future.

“Pavel’s Violin” is a work of historical fiction, a genre peculiar enough to be seriously misunderstood. Historical fiction is not literal history that has been fictionalized to the point that its details are not reliable news accounts of what happened. It is fiction inspired by historical events in order to convey truths which are deeper than literal. Historical fiction, at its best, serves as a metaphor that can draw a reader into a story as a first hand participant, rather than as a consumer of facts. This is what I have tried to do with the story of “Pavel’s Violin.” I hope you will not just learn about what happened, but that you will become part of the story, yourself. That you will stand beside Jakob atop Kartellerjochl, with Pavel in a cattle car transport on its way to Auschwitz, with Nurse Ilse and her children as Zyklon B pellets fall among them in the gas chamber. And more. I hope you will not only hear the Violin, but will experience the playing of it. The sound of its music under your left ear. The vibrations of the wood upon your chin and shoulder. Most of all, I hope you, too, will realize the compulsion of the story, and the obligation to recount it, in your own way, to others.

Hamantaschen Class!

We’re having a Hamantaschen Making Class this Saturday!


 Hamantaschen Class – Saturday, February 18th
1:00 – 3:00 PM
at the home of Glyn & Will Melnyk
Make your Hamanstaschen for Purim
Only 1 space left, so register now!
No charge, but a $5.00 donation is requested for materials.
Presented by People of the Mountain

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PART OF A World-Wide Community

humanorah_society_for_humanistic_judaismHUMANISTIC JUDAISM IS A WORLD WIDE COMMUNITY

Why join a larger community?

Humanistic Judaism is an innovative philosophy in Jewish life. Many of us were drawn to its honesty, its boldness, its openness and its creativity. The philosophy brought us to our congregation, but it is our quest for community that compels us to stay. We want to associate with others who share our vision — our view of Jewish identity. We want to share our ideas and feel the warmth of their acceptance.

The opportunity for communal acceptance is greater than what we receive from our local congregation. There are Jews who live outside of our area who share our Jewish outlook. They are Humanistic Jews and they celebrate their identity in ways both similar to and different from what we do in our local communities. In learning about the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the other congregations, there arises the promise of new friends, fresh ideas, different music, and diverse perspectives. This enriches us, enables us to deepen our knowledge of Humanistic Judaism and enhances our ability to celebrate our identity.

Beyond North America is the world of Secular Humanistic Judaism. Secular Humanistic Judaism in Hebrew, Italian, French, Russian and Spanish is a mind boggling and exhilarating experience. Each country contributes their particular point of view and unique expression of our basic philosophy to our collective understanding. What we share is the passion of our viewpoint. New worlds are opened to us.

We are strengthened by this expansion of our vision. We are no longer only a local congregation, no longer only a North American Society. We are a worldwide movement. We feel the excitement that this realization affords us. We are something greater than our individual selves.

Rabbi Miriam Jerris
Society for Humanistic Judaism

Am HaHar Hanukkah Service and Songs


The Festival of Lights
A Cultural

People of the Mountain

A Quick History of Hanukkah

Winter Solstice

The roots of Hanukkah may lie in the ancient past. The Jewish historian Josephus refers to a Jewish winter holiday called “Lights” (twrn) when he writes about the Maccabees, and the Jews are hardly the only people to light lights as the days get shorter and colder. At the same time, Hanukkah is the only traditional Jewish holiday based upon solid historical events, which took place around the year 165 BCE (Before the Common Era.)

The Maccabees

When the local Greek king Antiochus IV imposed the Greek culture (Hellenism) on Judea, some Jews were attracted to it. Others strongly rejected Greek religious practices. A religious rebellion, led by a family called Hasmonians (today known as “Maccabees” after their famous leader Judah Maccabee (“Hammer,”) fought off the Greeks, and made an independent nation.

They held a celebration on the 25th day of the month of Kislev ( approximately mid-November to mid-December) to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means “Dedication.” Their festival was eight days long because they had been unable to celebrate the eight days of the Festival of Sukkot (“Booths”) while the Temple was in Greek hands. Also because Solomon’s original dedication of the First Temple in II Kings 8 supposedly lasted for eight days. The Winter Solstice and the Maccabees are the original inspiration for celebrating Hanukkah.

The Miracle of the Oil

Several hundred years later, the legend of the oil lasting miraculously for eight days first appeared in the Talmud. There’s nothing about it in the Book of Macabees or in the history of Josephus. Evidently the Rabbis of this later time did not view the Maccabees favorably, because they eventually adopted Greek customs themselves, and because they called themselves High Priests and Kings, though not of the lineage of Aaron or King David. So the Rabbis introduced a story to sanctify (make Holy) the holiday by de-emphasizing the human agency and adding the miraculous, which was needed because the people kept celebrating it! The “Miracle of the Oil” is a late, but popular, addition to the Jewish tradition.


Between then and now, Hanukkah was largely a minor holiday. A nine-light Menorah (or Hanukiah) would be lit, one candle for each of the eight days, and a shames or helper candle.) Gradually other traditions were added” the Dreidel from Germany, and Gelt, Latkes and Doughnuts. Hanukkah is more popular today in America then even under the Maccabees!

Candle Lighting Blessings

On the First Night Only:

Ay-foo Or-ee? Or-ee Bee.
Ay-foo Tik-va-tee? Tik-va-tee Bee.
Ay-foo Ko-khee? Ko-kee Bee.
V’-gam Bakh. ]b mgw

Where is my Light? My light is in me.
Where is my hope? My hope is in me.
Where is my strength? My strength is in me.
And in you.
— Rabbi Sherwin Wine

Precious is the light in the world and in all people,
which has kept us in life, sustained us,
and enabled us to reach this happy season.

And we celebrate our freedom won a long time ago.

For Each Night – Before Lighting the Candles

Bah-rookh Hah-or Bah-o-lam
Bah-rookh Hah-or Bah-ah-dam
Bah-rookh Hah-or Bah-Kha-noo-kah

Blessed is the Light in the World.
Blessed is the light of humanity.
Blessed is the Light of Hanukkah.

Come, gather around and light the Hanukiah (Menorah)
as we say:

“L’had-leek ner shel Ha-nukah.”

Response: “We light the candles of Hanukkah”

Lighting Each Candle
Light the Shames Candel First, Then one for each Night, beginning on the Right)

Shames – Recalling our ancient struggle this night,
I am the First to kindle the light.

First Night – To the Maccabees, to their glorious fight,
To the heroes of old, I kindle this light.

Second Night – For the right to be different, and to speak without fear,
To the spirit of freedom, this candle burns clear.

Third Night – I light this candle, with love in my heart,
For my People’s culture, our writers, our art.

Fourth Night – To all the children, wherever they live,
To our friends in all lands, this candle I give.

Fifth Night – I light the fifth candle, on this Hanukkah night,
For the land of my birth, may its freedom stay bright.

Sixth Night – And now, to Israel, and to Jews everywhere,
May peace be their lot, and freedom their share.

Seventh Night – To all those who live by their minds and their hands,
This light to the workers of all the world’s lands.

Eighth Night – To joy everywhere, to justice and right,
To life and to peace, this candle burns bright.

All say: “Happy Hanukkah!

Let the Candles burn until they go out, or until the end of your evening.
The Dreidel Game

The Dreidel

The classic dreidel is a four sided spinning top made of wood, plastic, or the proverbial clay. On the four sides of the dreidel appear four letters from the Hebrew alphabet—nun (נ), gimmel (ג), hey (ה), and shin (ש). These four letters in the Rabbinic tradition are an acronym for “nes gadol hayah sham”—”a great miracle happened there.”

In Israel, the actual setting of the Chanukah miracle legend, the last letter, shin, is substituted with a pey (פ), which stands for “po”—”here.”

Game Components

Age range: Three and up (little children might require assistance with spinning the dreidel)
• 1 Dreidel (or, accelerate the pace of the game by supplying each player with his/her own dreidel)
• 2 or more players (the more the merrier!)
• The “Ante”—nuts, pennies, nickels, chocolate coins, nuts, or just about anything else…
• Flat Surface (such as floor or wide table) for dreidel spinning
• A Chanukah Festive Mood

Platter of Latkes and/or Sufganiot

The Setup

1. All players sit around the playing area.
2. The “ante” is equally divided amongst all players.
3. Everyone takes a turn at spinning the dreidel; the one with the highest spin has first turn. (Nun is highest, then gimmel, hey, and shin.) If there is a tie for highest, those who tied spin again.
4. Everyone puts one unit of the ante (penny, nut, etc.) into the pot.
5. The one who has first turn is followed in clockwise direction by all the others.
6. Player A spins the dreidel while everyone waits in utter suspense (in the interest of speeding up the game, some knock down the dreidel mid-spin instead of waiting for it to come to a rest).
7. If the dreidel lands on a…

Nun – נ
You’ve just wasted your time. Absolutely nothing happens. You may as well have taken a bathroom break instead of that useless spin. Better luck next time!
Nun stands for the Yiddish word nul, which means zero, nothing, nil. After your exercise in futility it’s time now for the player to your left to take a spin.
If however your dreidel landed on a…

Gimmel – ג
Wow! Amazing! You did it! You get to take the whole pot! Take it quick and then do a little victory dance around the room. Pay no attention to the envious stares you are getting. You are an absolute dreidel pro!
Gimmel stands in Yiddish for gantz, which means whole. Everyone, including you, now puts another unit of the ante into the pot, and the person to your left tries his luck at spinning.

But, it’s hard to be so lucky every time. Sometimes your dreidel will land on a…

Hey – ה
Okay, you could have done better, but you could have done worse. You get to take half of the pot. If the pot has an odd amount of units, don’t try to split that penny, nut, or piece of chocolate in half. Leave it there. Take the high road. Let the others believe that it is beneath you to care…
Hey in Yiddish stands for halb, half. The pot has now been diminished, and it’s time for the player to your left to take a stab at riches.

But don’t complain. The dreidel could have landed on a…

Shin – ש
The absolute worst. The dregs. You now have to put another unit into the pot! You better figure out how to improve your spinning technique before you will be forced to take out a second mortgage on your home.
Shin in Yiddish is for shenk; yes, that means give. Your hope now is that the pot will still be around next time it is your turn to spin. Maybe then you’ll get a gimmel and recoup your losses…

The Endgame
The game ends when one of the following occurs:

a) The platter of latkes or sufganiot is finished.
b) One of the children becomes whiny (usually upon realizing that pretty soon he/she will have no more chocolate coins remaining).
c) Mom or Dad have some urgent business to attend to.
d) The crack of dawn has arrived.

And the real endgame is the lesson this game has taught. We are overjoyed about the stories of our Jewish ancestors. Throughout Chanukah this is constantly on our mind—even when we are involved with fun and games!


Hanukkah, Hanukkah

Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Festival of Lights,
Candles glow, in a row,
Seven days, eight nights,
Hanukkah, Hanukkah, make your dreydls spin,
Round and round, round and round
everyone join in!

Chanukkah, Chanukkah, chag yafeh kol kach,
Ohr chaviv, misavis
Gil liyeled rach.
Chanukkah, Chanukkah, sovivon, sov, sov.
Sov, sov, sov! Sov, sov sov!
Ma nayim vitov.

Chanukah, Chanukkah, is a great holiday.
Surrounded with lovely light.
Fun for little children.
Chanukah, Chanukkah , Dreidel, spin, spin, spin.
Spin, spin spin; Spin, spin, spin;
How wonderful!

I Have a Candle (Ner Li)

I have a candle, a candle so bright,
On Hanukkah my candle burns bright.
On Hanukkah its light burns long,
On Hanukkah I sing this song.
On Hanukkah its light burns long,
On Hanukkah I sing this song.

Ner li, ner li, ner li dakik,
Bahanukkah neri ‘adlik.
Bahanukkah neri ya ‘ir
Bahanukkah shirim a-shir.
Bahanukkah neri ya ‘ir
Bahanukkah shirim a-shir.

Spinning Top, Spin, Spin, Spin
(Sevivon, Sov, Sov, Sov)

Spinning top, spin, spin, spin!
Hanukkah is a great holiday,
A happy Holiday for everyone,
A great wonder happened there,
Happy Holiday for everyone.
A great wonder happened there,
Happy Day for everyone.

Sevivon; sov, sov, sov!
Hanukkah, hu chag tov;
Hanukkah, hu chag tov.
Sevivon, sov, sov, sov!
Chag simchah hu laam,
Nes gadol hayah sham;
Nes gadol hayah sham,
Chag simchah hu alam.

I Have a Little Dreidel

I have a little dreidel,
I made it out of clay,
and when it’s dry and ready,
oh dreidel I shall play!
Oh! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
I made it out of clay,
and when it’s dry and ready,
oh dreiel I shall play!

It has a lovely body,
with leg so short and thin,
and when my dreidel’s tired,
it drops and then I win!
Oh! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
with leg so short and thin,
Oh! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
it drops and then I win!

My dreidel’s always playful,
lt loves to dance and spin,
A happy game of dreidel,
come, play now, let’s begin!
Oh! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
it loves to dance and spin,
Oh! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
Come play now let’s begin!

Ikh Bin A Kleyner Dreydl

Ikh bin a kleyner dreydl,
gemakht bin ikh fun blay,
Kumt lomir aleh sh-plin,
in dreydl eyns tsvay dray!
Oy! Dreydl, dreydl, dreydl,
Oy, drezikh, dreydl, drey,
to lomir aleh sh-plin,
in dreydle eyns un tsvey.

Un ikh hob lib tsu tantsn,
zih dreyen in a rod
to lomir ale tantsn,
zikh dreydl karahod.
Oy, Dreydl, dreydl, dreydl,
Oy, drey zikh, dreydl, drey
To lomir aleh sh-plin,
in dreydl eyns un tsvey.

I am a little dreidel,
I am made from lead.
Come let’s all play dreidel –
Oh, dreidel one two three.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
oh, dreidel, dreidel, spin.
So let’s all play dreidel,
in dreidel, one and two.

And I love to dance,
to spin in a circle.
So let’s all dance
a dreidel-circle.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
oh dreidel, dreidel, spin.
So let’s all play dreidel,
in dreidel one and two.