June 25, 2024
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June 25, 2024
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The Longest Dreidel Game: A Chanukah Shpiel

Part II

The story so far: In the times of the Yevanim, a group of soldiers bursts into a cave to find its occupants—three Yidden alphabetically named Ashi, Berish, and Chanina—playing dreidel. Feeling silly for bursting in, the soldiers leave, except for one soldier—Oblivious—who decides to be nice and play a game of dreidel with the oilam. The Yidden realize that he’s trying to be nice, but they do want to get rid of him ASAP so they can go back to learning before the lights go out. First their plan is to make him win as quickly as possible. But then when he’s having a good time and announces that if he wins, everyone absolutely HAS to come to his house for a meal, the plan changes and now they’re trying to make him lose.

OBLIVIOUS: “This game really is taking long.”

CHANINA: “Because you wanted to play this way!”

AZZI: “Look, we’ve all played this way, with our kids. It takes forever.”

CHANINA: “I can make it be over faster.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Really?”

CHANINA: “Yes. Would you like some cheese?”

He offers up a platter of cheese.

OBLIVIOUS: “What is that? Feta? I really can’t. That makes me very thirsty.”

CHANINA: “That’s okay; we have wine!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Nah, I brought my own lunch.”

A fourth Yid, Dovid, obliviously comes in from further back in the cave.

DOVID: “Okay, I made a coffee. It takes forever to heat water down here.”

Oblivious is surprised.

OBLIVIOUS: “Has this guy been back there the whole time?”

DOVID: “Who is this gentleman?”

AZZI: “He’s a Greek soldier, and he’s decided to stay and play dreidel!”

DOVID: “Yes, dreidel! Like we’ve been doing!” (Sits down.) “Catch me up! Ow!… I spilled my coffee.”

Dovid goes back to the deep recesses of the cave to deal with this.

OBLIVIOUS: “It’s so hard to see in here. Why are the letters the same color as the rest of the dreidel?”

AZZI: “Nobody knows!”

OBLIVIOUS: “This is like the worst-lit casino ever.”

CHANINA: “I think casinos are supposed to have bad lighting. It’s so you can make bad decisions… Cheese?”

A fifth Yid, Eli, walks in from the outside.

ELI: “Rabboisai, Mincha!”

He stops short.

OBLIVIOUS: “Hi! What’s Mincha?”

AZZI: “It’s a present.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Oh… Why’s he asking for a present?”

BERISH: “He’s here to win!”

OBLIVIOUS: “You wear a suit and hat to play dreidel?

ELI: “It’s casino night, baby! My wife thinks I’m at Minch—shopping.

OBLIVIOUS: “Mincha shopping? Like buying her a present? You’d better not lose money, then. I’m doing very well.”

A sixth Yid, Feivel, comes in from the outside.

FEIVEL: “Hey, how many do we have?”

He stops short.

CHANINA: “Come join us! We’re playing dreidel, which we always play! This gentleman is Oblivious! If he wins, he’s insisting we come to his house for supper. All of us!”

FEIVEL(sitting down): “Oh, wow! I hope we win!”

Oblivious inspects his pile of coins.

OBLIVIOUS: “Wait… are these made of chocolate?”

AZZI: “You think our wives wouldn’t find out about this if we were using actual money?”

BERISH: “We’re Jews. Everything is food. Here, try one of these coasters!”

OBLIVIOUS (sniffs one and tastes it): “Hey! It tastes like potatoes!”

CHANINA: “Cheese?”

FEIVEL: “I’ll have cheese.”

CHANINA: “It’s not for you.”

A seventh Yid, Gershon, walks in from outside.

GERSHON: “Ashrei!”


ELI: “Oh, that’s me. My name is Ashrei.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Ah. No offense. Jewish names just sound strange to me.”

CHANINA: “You mean as opposed to Antiochus? What, is there an Uncle Yochus?”

Oblivious looks at his dreidel.

OBLIVIOUS: “Wait; what’s yud again?”

AZZI: “Half.”

OBLIVIOUS: “How do you do half of an odd number of coins?”

BERISH: “I think you just cut one in half. They’re chocolate.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Ok, Ashrei, it’s your turn.” (No one moves.) “Ashrei… Ashrei…”

GERSHON (realizing): “Ashrei!”

ELI: “What? Oh.”

He spins.

OBLIVIOUS: “So… What does nun gimmel yud pey stand for, anyway?”

ELI: “Um…”

AZZI: “Neat Game You Play!”

FEIVEL: “Nu? Give Your Pennies.”

CHANINA: “Now Gevinah, You Pagan!”

Another Yid walks in.

HERSCHEL: “Let’s go! Ashrei!”

OBLIVIOUS (looking at “Ashrei”): “Ashrei, if you need to go, you can go.”

HERSCHEL (stops): “No, I was… cheering him on. Go Ashrei!”

ELI: “I’m only doing okay.”

OBLIVIOUS: “You know, I’m beginning to think your name isn’t Ashrei.”

He looks directly at Eli.

OBLIVIOUS: “What is Ashrei?”

Eli looks at the people behind Oblivious, who are shaking their heads and motioning furiously.

ELI: “It’s a game.”

OBLIVIOUS: “I knew there was another game! You Jews and your games. My superior officer always says: “Those Jews keep playing games.” And he’s right! But he says it like it’s a bad thing…”

CHANINA: “Shin! I got a Shin!”

ELI: “Me too! Pey, I mean.”

OBLIVIOUS: “So how do you play Ashrei?”

HERSCHEL: “Okay, um… Everyone stands facing one direction in silence. You can’t turn around. Last one standing wins!”

OBLIVIOUS: “And then the winner does a trust fall?”

AZZI: “No!”


OBLIVIOUS: “I’m a guard; I can stand quietly for hours. You guys have no chance.”

He gets up.

OBLIVIOUS: “The key is to stand near a wall so you’re not distracted.”

CHANINA: “Sssh.”

Oblivious stands still for a few minutes. Then finally he turns around.

OBLIVIOUS: “I win! Oh yeah!… Ow! If I step on one more dreidel in the dark… I’m going to put my sandals back on.”

AZZI: “Would you like to get back to dreidel now?”

OBLIVIOUS: “I don’t know. I’ve got to be honest; dreidel is not as much fun as it looks.”

HERSCHEL: “Well, give it a chance! Ow!”

OBLIVIOUS: “And the game is taking so-ooo long! I feel like I’ve been playing for about a week.”

BERISH: “Can I offer you more potato coasters? That’s how we pass the time.”

OBLIVIOUS: “No, if I eat one more of those, I’m going to have to start wearing a king-size bed sheet. And then Antiochus will be upset, because king-size bed sheets are his thing. I’m just gonna go.”

GERSHON (sarcastically): “Whaaat? No-ooo…”

FEIVEL: “No-ooo…”

BERISH: “Are you sure?… And he’s gone.”

AZZI: “I can’t believe it was boredom that finally got him out of here.”

CHANINA (pulling out seforim): “Great! Now we can finally get back to our—”

The last of the candles burns out, plunging everyone into pitch darkness.

CHANINA: “Great.”

Oblivious comes back in to find total darkness.

OBLIVIOUS: “Can I have a ride home with someone? I think my elephant got towed.”

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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