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"The Magic Dreidel"
was created especially for
at the age of 9
With Love From,
Granny & Grandpa
Throughout Livingston, New Jersey, children gazed out of their windows on the crisp winter day, watching the sun set. They anxiously awaited the disappearance of the last little bit of light, for that would mark the start of a very special holiday -- the eight-day festival of Hanukkah. Sarah Abramson was so excited. Todd, Judy, and Richard would be there to help light the menorah and open the Hanukkah gifts.
Since the guests had not arrived yet, Sarah practiced with the dreidel, a four-sided top used in a special Hanukkah game. Round and round the dreidel spun, each time landing with a different one of its Hebrew letters -- nun, gimel, hay and shin -- showing.
"Ouch!" shouted the dreidel. "I landed hard that time. Sarah, do you think we could take a little break? I'm getting kind of dizzy, and I don't want to be pooped out when everyone gets here."
Sarah could hardly believe her ears! "Wait a minute! Whoever heard of a talking dreidel?" asked Sarah. "Well, most dreidels can't talk, but I'm very special," the top said, with a little chuckle. "I'm Mac, the magic dreidel, and I'm not just a toy. I'm here for a very special reason. Let me ask you a question. What do you like best about Hanukkah?" Sarah had to think only a second.
"Well, Mac, I like lighting the candles on the menorah each night and eating all that good Hanukkah food. However, I think I like the gifts the very best," answered Sarah. "Those are a very important part of the holiday," said Mac, "but that's not enough, Sarah. I've come here to teach you the meaning of Hanukkah."
With that, the dreidel suddenly jumped up and began to spin faster and faster. As he whirled and twirled, laughing merrily, the room was bathed in a soft, blue light. Sarah was fascinated, for suddenly, pictures like a movie or television show appeared, hanging in mid-air.
"Whew! Quite a workout," said Mac, who had stopped spinning. "Now, Sarah Abramson, we're going to talk about how Hanukkah began and why we celebrate it today. Then I want you to share the story later with Todd, Judy, and Richard." Sarah gazed intently at the scene before her as Mac began his tale.
"Sarah, two thousand years ago, in the land we know as Israel, wicked King Antiochus ruled. He did not like the way the Jewish people worshipped only one God, for he worshipped many. The Jews were proud and refused to bend to the king's will. So the king robbed and damaged the beautiful temple in Jerusalem and killed many of the Jews."
"One day, Sarah, the king's men insisted that an old man named Mattathias worship a statue of a Greek god. Mattathias became angry and refused. Then he, his five sons and their followers ran into the hills and formed an army. Mattathias' family became known as the Maccabees, a word which means 'hammer'. When Mattathias died, his son, Judah Maccabee became the leader of the band of the Jews."
Sarah listened and watched as the scene before her eyes shifted to the hills of Judea. "They were a small band, but the Maccabees and their followers believed strongly in their cause and knew the hills of Judea well. Because of this, they were able to defeat the armies of the wicked king. Antiochus was driven out of Judea, and Judah Maccabee led his followers out of the hills."
"But all was not well. The Jews had to repair the temple in Jerusalem. Alas Sarah, there was only enough oil to keep the sacred eternal light burning for one day. Then the miracle of Hanukkah occurred. That little bit of oil kept the light burning not for one day, but for eight."
"Sarah, this is the reason we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. We light a candle each night to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah. It's a story you should think about when you, along with Todd, Judy, and Richard, are eating potato latkes tonight, opening gifts and spinning me in circles."
The pictures that had danced before Sarah slowly began to fade. Soon, all in the living room was just as it had been before. Sarah looked down at the floor and there lay Mac. Only now, he wasn't talking. In fact he looked just like an ordinary dreidel. "Wow!" thought Sarah. Did that really happen? Was it just a dream? Was this really a magic dreidel?"
But, of course it was! For Mac had given Sarah the best holiday gift of all -- a lesson about the true meaning of Hanukkah. Sarah Abramson would always remember this. She would be sure to share the story with Todd, Judy, and Richard.
Sarah, here is a list of Hanukkah words you should remember: The Maccabees (MAH-cuh-bees) -- The brave band of Jews who fought the wicked king's armies from the hills of Judea. Their first leader was Mattathias and later they were led by his son, Judah Maccabee. Antiochus (an-tee-AH-kus) -- The wicked king who robbed and pillaged the temple and made life miserable for the Jews. Menorah (meh-NOHR-uh) -- The eight-stemmed candelabra that holds the Hanukkah candles. We light a candle each night to commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah. Dreidel (DRAY-duhl) -- The four-sided top used in traditional Hanukkah games.
Sarah, you can have fun playing the dreidel game at Hanukkah. You need a dreidel and some raisins equally divided among the players. Each takes five raisins from his pile and puts them into the main pile in the center. Then, each person takes a turn spinning the dreidel. When it stops spinning and the letter "nun" is facing up, the player does nothing. "Hay" means the player gets half of the main pile. "Shin" means you must put half of your raisins into the main pile. For "gimel," a player takes all the raisins in the main pile. The Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for "Nes gadol hayah sham," which means "A great miracle happened there" -- a fitting message for Hanukkah.
In THE MAGIC DREIDEL,