Topping Listener Questions: What's A Dreidel?

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Robert Siegel takes up a listener's query about a recent story on the Major League Dreidel Championship. "What's a dreidel?" Thankfully, he knows the answer.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: SIEGEL: It's All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. And now, we'll try to explain something from yesterday's program that evidently left some of you baffled. NPR's Robert Smith reported on a high stakes dreidel competition on the lower eastside of Manhattan.

(Soundbite of Major League Dreidel Championship)

Mr. ERIC PAVONY (Knishioner, Major League Dreidel): Welcome to 2008 Major League Dreidel. Thank you for coming tonight. I know the weather is tough out there, but we spin, rain or shine. Can all the spinners hear me out there?

SIEGEL: At Fontana's bar, a children's Hanukkah game is central to an annual party for grownups. But in our enthusiasm, we evidently left out a basic detail for those of you unfamiliar with this Hanukkah tradition. Scott Rhude(ph) of Grand Rapids, Michigan writes, would someone please tell me what a dreidel is? OK, Scott, you've come to the right host. A dreidel is a top. It has four sides and each side has a Hebrew letter on it. In the traditional game, kids play for nuts or raisins or pieces of Hanukkah gelt or gold coins, which are actually chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil. According to which letter lands face up, you either win some gelt, lose some, or nothing happens to you on your turn. The competition Robert Smith reported on was just to see, well, first, who could make the top or the dreidel spin the longest?

(Soundbite of Major League Dreidel Championship)

Mr. PAVONY: Our first match up of the night, Debbie Does Dreidels versus Yom Kippur Some Sugar On Me.

SIEGEL: But obviously also who could make the worst puns. Armed with this knowledge you can now go back and listen to Robert Smith's definitive report on the dreidel competition at

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