Where they originated, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, and Pesach can legitimately be called springtime holidays. But, what of the rest of the world?
Here in Toronto, temperatures peaked at 2 degrees Celcius for Tu B’Shevat, the “festival of the trees” (that’s 35.6 for those of you who still think in Fahrenheit). Temperatures across Canada were generally colder, with “balmy” Vancouver reaching only 4 degrees. On Purim, we are expecting to stay between 1 and 6 degrees across Canada – St. John’s has a snowfall warning. By Pesach, we are beginning to enjoy spring-like weather, trying to forget the inevitability of one last April snowfall. The old saying “April showers bring May flowers” belies our reality – typically, it’s May showers bring June flowers, here. In fact, prevailing wisdom is that it’s only safe to plant after the second-last weekend in May, when the threat of a late frost is gone.
Here in the colder part of the world, the first of the so-called “springtime” holidays coincide, not with the beginning of the new season, but with the tiring reality of a winter that seems to drag on indefinitely. Thankfully, their warm messages of joy, hope, and renewal are just what we need to carry us through our coldest and darkest time of year. They signal the warmth of the seasons to come.
When we think of Chanukah, first is the Menorah or Chanukiah, then the food – Sufganiyot or latkes, then the dreidel, or sevivon.
JewJu Box partner Judy and her husband began a tradition of buying a dreidel every year for their youngest son; a quick search for designer dreidel images shows you just how many, varied, and beautiful dreidel designs can be.
Like so much of the Chanukah story, what we grew up believing isn’t necessarily the true – or whole – story. Games very similar to the Dreidel game has been played for centuries in different countries, while the story explaining that rabbis or children used to disguise their gatherings for study by playing dreidel when approached, dates back to the 1890. The English and Irish, for example, had a game called Teetotum, or T-Totum as far back as the 1500’s, with English letters signifying “Take” “Half”, “Put Down” and “Nothing”. You can read more about the Dreidel’s origins at My Jewish Learning, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-origin-of-the-dreidel/ and at Shalom Says Hello https://shalommorris.com/2015/12/12/the-sephardi-origins-of-the-dreidel .
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Chabad in South Palm Beach, owns the most valuable dreidel, valued at $14,000 in 2015. It was designed by Pedro Maldonado, and is replete with diamonds and hanging gems, with a diamond point, which was valued in 2015 at $14,000. See a picture and brief article here: http://lubavitch.com/news/article/2056271/Guinness-World-Record-Certifies-World-s-Most-Valuable-Dreidel.html
The Scouts of Ramat Gan seem to hold the current record for the tallest dreidel. A brief article and picture are here. https://www.timesofisrael.com/scouts-break-guinness-dreidel-record/
The longest dreidel spin is currently 35.8 seconds. Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3E2p16B7RM
1000 people is the current record for the most number of people spinning a Dreidel at once, set in Tel Aviv in 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vz9V7tZB-A
Do you play the Dreidel game? Do you have other games you play with it? The “officlal” game is played like this. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-play-dreidel/
Ben Blatt at Slate magazine suggested an innovation to speed up the game – it can get quite tedious after a while – that involves everyone spinning a dreidel at the same time, rather than one at a time. You can read the rules in depth, and also his computation of how long an “authentic” game takes, compared to how long his “Speed Dreidel” lasts. You can read the article and his rules here. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/holidays/2014/12/rules_of_dreidel_the_hannukah_game_is_way_too_slow_let_s_speed_it_up.html
We used to like to racing to see who could spin the longest – essentially, a dreidel race.
Judy designed a teaching game involving a construction-paper Chanukia with magnets where the candles go, and paper candles with paper clips attached. The letters are instructions: Add a candle, take off a candle, and so on, and the first person to fill their Menorah would win.
Do you play? How?
Really, there's only one correct way to spell it....in Hebrew:
We grew up spelling Chanukah....Chanukah.
What about you?
A quick Internet search (of course) brings us to joemaller.com's list,entitled 16 Ways to Spell Hanukkah. (joemaller.com/601/sixteen-ways-to-spell-hanukkah)
There are 18 spellings on his list. Here they are, in order of popularity.
Of course, that's only in English....
Enjoy this take on the question, from the leevees
Everyone needs community. Our goal is to make it easier for Jews to feel at home, wherever they go and wherever they are. Creating a sense of home needs tools. A JewJu Box is just that toolbox.
Everyone needs community. We know how hard it is to stay connected to our roots as we move through life, be it to university, a new town, or an extended stay away. Whether it’s a recipe, a mezuzah, or candles, we all need a bit of home, wherever we go.
Not everybody lives in a Jewish neighbourhood. All our Shabbat candle holders take tea lights, which are easy to find everywhere. Similarly, our Chanukiah takes birthday candles.
Everyone needs community, even in transitory situations. Our mezuzot are removable, in case you can't or don't want to leave nail holes. Our shabbat candles are electric, so you can use them when a fire is impractical or impossible.
We are proud of our JewJu Boxes. They are attractive, but still reasonably priced. They're convenient, easy to send, and easy to use throughout the Jewish year. The components look good enough to put on display, but they are also easy to put away from week to week. They suit a variety of backgrounds and situations, and are suitable for all stages of life, from graduation, through travel, conversion, marriage, and illness. Because everyone needs community.