Hanukkah Dreidels – Aharon's Jewish Books and Judaica

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Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hei), ש (Shin), which together form the acronym for “נס גדול היה שם” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham — “a great miracle happened there”). These letters also form a mnemonic for the rules of a gambling game played with a dreidel: Nun stands for the Yiddish word nite (“nothing”), Hei stands for halb (“half”), Gimel for gants (“all”), and Shin for shteln (“put”). In Israel, the fourth side of most dreidels is inscribed with the letter פ (Pei), rendering the acronym, נס גדול היה פה, Nes Gadol Hayah Po—”A great miracle happened here” referring to the miracle occurring in the land of Israel.

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