As Jews around the world munch their way through the eight-day Festival of Lights, they are also engaged in spinning small four-sided tops called "dreidels" or "sivivons." They are as much a part of the tradition of the Hanukkah holiday as the oil-laden menu of fried latkes (the Yiddish word for "levivot" -- Hebrew for potato pancakes) and "sufganiot" -- puffy jelly-filled doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar and sold on nearly every street corner in Israel during the holiday.
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Orthodox Union (OU) Kashrut Division this year has shared the latest additions to his world-renowned dreidel collection with Arutz Sheva -- the stunning selection is also one of the largest and most beautiful private collections of Hanukkah dreidels in the world.
The spinning tops are shaped with four sides, each bearing a Hebrew letter, nun, gimel, hey, and shin, which stands for the phrase, "Ness gadol haya sham" -- "A great miracle happened there." (In Israel, the phrase ends with the Hebrew letter "pey" -- for the word, "poh," or "here.")
"When we face times of hardship and tragedy, the dreidel teaches us first and foremost that G-d is our G-d and we are His people,” the rabbi wrote in an essay on the topic. “And if we believe in that ultimate meaning of the Jewish people; if we know that despite the dizzying blur of events in our history there is some purpose the challenges we face, and if we are prepared to fight to remain Jews regardless of what history throws at us, then who knows – we might just experience a miracle and be reassured that there is a hidden hand guiding the destiny of the Jewish people.
"And yet... and yet... this sense of miracle is so mighty as to cause us to overlook the small miracles, the delightful miracles, that occur each and every day. Which brings us, once again, to the simple and fun little dreidel...." his essay continued. Perhaps he had in mind the myriad new whimsical little dreidels added recently to the collection, which are featured in this year's photos, seen below.
“My growing personal collection of dreidels not only keeps my sense of wonder and delight fresh and young but is a constant reminder of the small miracles of life," he added. "Every day, I see G-d's miracles – in a mother's kiss, a grandmother's doting smile, a father's proud expression. I see a community caring for itself and for others.
“The world is filled with miracles great and small... Miracles are part of the Jewish world and experience. From Sinai and the splitting of the Red Sea, miracles are part of our national history. Our … 'national memory helps Jews believe in miracles, and develop a stronger relationship with G-d,” Safran wrote.
All Israel news photos following are courtesy of Shimon Gifter.