Dreidel? Dreydel? Dreyidel?


Dreidel boyMy sister-in-law called me last night and as I answered the phone she said “How do you spell dreidel?” I was taken aback for a second. Not only could I not think of any reason my non-Jewish Irish Catholic sister-in-law was asking for the spelling of dreidel — I didn’t actually know how to answer her. It seems that transliterated spelling of any Hebrew word can be spelled a dozen plus different ways. I quickly googled the word while I was on the phone with her and suggested she spell it d-r-e-i-d-e-l. Then I asked, “Why?”

It turns out my nephew’s pre-school asked parents to tell them how their kids spend the holidays. In our family, my husband is Roman Catholic and we are raising my two sons Jewish, we throw a family Hanukkah party each year. It started about four years ago when I invited my sister, her husband and my husband’s family (two brothers, his parents, grandmother, kids and spouses) over for Hanukkah. His family was so excited to learn the songs, light the candles, hear the story of Hanukkah, eat homemade latkes (the first and last time I actually made them from scratch) and jelly doughnuts and learn how to spin the dreidel.

Since then my sister has moved away, but we still have the annual Hanukkah party at our house with my husband’s family. This was why my sister-in-law needed to know how to spell dreidel, so she can tell my nephew’s preschool how he celebrated Hanukkah. Now, let’s hope she doesn’t need to know how to spell sufganiot.

One thought on “Dreidel? Dreydel? Dreyidel?”

  • Everyone asks about “latkes” and “dreidels.” But how about “Sufganiot?” No one. I bet out of 100 American Jews, you’ll find less than 10 that even know what they are.

    During our upcoming 8-day Hannukah festival, Sefardic and Romaniote Jews in the US, most Israelis and all kinds of folks in the rest of the Levant contribute to their community’s caloric bottom line by making or eating dozens of these fruit- or pudding-filled donut-like confections.

    Everyone has their own special recipe. My Sufganiot recipe is an adaptation of a loukomades (Greek fry-cake donut) recipe I learned while a rabbinical student in Salonika. My friend Jean-Michel Carasso, a chef in Italy, never made sufganiot, but told me that sufganiot are the same as what they call “bomboloni” in Italy.

    Here’s a recipe for bomboloni which he thinks is great and will get you going on making your own sufganiot: http://www.foodista.com/2008/08/20/bomboloni/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *