December 9, 2018

THE REFORMATION ROLLS ON:

HANUKKAH'S DRIEDEL HAS ... CHRISTMAS ROOTS? (Carly Stern, 12/09/18, OZY)

Alternate theories abound, but the game evolved from a game called "totum" or "teetotum," often played in England and Ireland around Christmastime, writes David Golinkin, a conservative rabbi and professor at Jerusalem's Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, in an article for the My Jewish Learning website. By 1720, the game was known as "T-totum" or "teetotum," and by 1801, the four letters on the top stood for English words. There was a German equivalent too, where the spinning top was called "torrel" or "trungl" in German, and "fargl," "varfl" or "dreidel" in Yiddish. This spread continued: An Eastern European game emerged, based on the German version. And when Hebrew was revived as a spoken language, some called the spinning top a "sevivon."

Put simply, the game of chocolate gambling that American Jews know and love was a product of cultural assimilation, which is ironic, because Hanukkah's history details a civil war between two factions of Jews fighting over just that: assimilation.

Posted by at December 9, 2018 9:52 AM

  

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