Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

No Gelt, No Glory

November 21, 2010 9:18 pm 0 comments

Share this Article

Welcome to “Extreme Sports: Jewish Style.” I’ll leave the suicidal skateboarding to the kids. Being a rabbi, I’m more of a dreidel blackbelt!

While they aren’t as transformative as the Kabbalah or as lucrative as a lottery win, I’m uniquely qualified to reveal to you another very powerful secret of the universe: the Upside Down Dreidel Spin.

This is the bubbie of all spins, but in the spirit of Chanukah, remember: just as the oil in the temple burned for eight days, a great dreidel player must cultivate patience and perseverance in order to master this move.

Step 1
Despite what the song says, most dreidels aren’t “made out of clay.” That’s the good news, because when it comes to dreidels, materials matter.

Start with a good quality dreidel, not one of the cheap plastic ones. The ideal dreidel is made of wood and measure about 1-inch square.

Here’s the key: make sure the very top of the handle is smooth, without any nicks or cracks.

Step 2
You also need a hard, smooth surface to spin on. Based on my extensive experience, I highly recommend the underside of a challah board.

Now, grip the dreidel’s handle between your index finger and thumb, with your palm facing upwards. The back of your hand should be no more than 6-inches above the spinning surface.

Step 3
Spin the dreidel with a snap of your thumb and index finger as you normally would — but release the dreidel with a gentle upward toss.

Step 4
Watch the amazed and impressed expressions on the faces of your family and friends.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. The very shape of the dreidel is a metaphor: when all its square, chunky contours spin, the dreidel looks round and smooth.

And just as the circle has no top and bottom and all its points are equivalent, so too is the family. When we come together in a circle of embrace, each member is equally important.

However, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to outdo them all with my Upside Down Dreidel Spin. I’d better start practicing now if I want to be ready for Chanukah.

Simcha Weinstein is an internationally known best-selling author. He chairs the Religious Affairs Committee at the renowned New York art school, Pratt Institute. His latest book Shtick Shift: Jewish Humor in the 21st century is on sale now.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →