July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Longest Dreidel Game: A Chanukah Shpiel

Part I

SCENE 1:

Interior of a cave. Three Yidden—Azzi, Berish, and Chanina—are sitting around a table when a trio of Greek soldiers bursts in, wearing togas and armor and brandishing spears. The soldiers have names too, but we’ll give their English approximations.

SANCTIMONIOUS: “Aha! Gotcha!”

AZZI: “Hey!”

FRIVOLOUS: “What?”

AZZI: “Hey!” (He looks at Chanina.) “That means you get half!”

(Chanina takes some coins out of the pile in the middle of the table and looks at the soldiers.)

CHANINA: “We’re playing dreidel. What do you mean, “Gotcha!”?

BERISH: “Wait; his dreidel has a hey? Mine has nun, gimmel, yud and pey.”

SANCTIMONIOUS: “Oh, okay; we thought you were… Never mind. Isn’t that a kids’ game?”

CHANINA: “We’re playing for money.”

FRIVOLOUS: “Then why are you doing it in a cave?”

BERISH: “Um… we all have wives?”

OBLIVIOUS: “I hear you there. I’ve got a wife too. Carry on.”

BERISH: “You guys want to play?”

SANCTIMONIOUS: “No, that seems kind of boring.”

FRIVOLOUS: “I don’t really carry cash on me. I’m wearing bed sheets.”

(The soldiers start to leave.)

AZZI: “Okay, bye!… Don’t tell our wives!”

BERISH (sarcastic): “Are you guys sure you don’t want to join us?”

(One soldier, Oblivious, stops and turns around.)

OBLIVIOUS: “Actually, you know what?”

BERISH: “What?”

OBLIVIOUS: “I’m going to play.”

AZZI: “What?”

BERISH: “What?”

OBLIVIOUS: “We’ve been giving you Jews such a hard time lately, we’re trying to bust you, and you’re just sitting around and playing an innocent game. If we can’t just sit together and play a game, how are our nations ever going to get along?”

(Chanina kicks Berish under the table.)

BERISH: “Ow!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Also, it’s raining. Deal me in.”

AZZI: “No, no… We don’t want to keep you.”

OBLIVIOUS: “No, really, it’s okay.”

AZZI: “Maybe a quick game.” (He looks at the candles, which are currently at about half-size.)

OBLIVIOUS: “Where are we holding?”

AZZI: “We, um… We haven’t actually started yet. We were just spinning for first. I guess.”

OBLIVIOUS: “How do you play?”

BERISH: “Well, you spin and see what letter comes up.”

AZZI: “And each one means something different. Like if you get a pey, you have to put money in the middle.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Oh, I get it! Pay!”

(Silence).

OBLIVIOUS: “Pay? Nobody?”

AZZI: “Just pick a dreidel.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Boy, you sure have a lot of them… So how do I choose? Like what are the benefits of each one? Do they each have special abilities, or…”

AZZI: “Not really.”

BERISH: “Well, with that one you can see the letters in the dark.”

CHANINA: “And this one’s flammable!”

OBLIVIOUS: “So it doesn’t really matter what I pick?”

AZZI: “You’d think it would.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Then why do you have so many?”

BERISH: “Nobody knows.”

OBLIVIOUS: “We have a similar game at home, but the thing has 6 sides.”

BERISH: “How do you spin it?”

OBLIVIOUS: “You just throw it.”

CHANINA: “That’s dumb.”

AZZI: “That’s how my kid plays dreidel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “So I just spin it?”

(He spins.)

OBLIVIOUS: “And now what do I do?”

AZZI: “Now we all wait for it to stop spinning.”

OBLIVIOUS: “I just did a huge spin. So most of the game is about waiting?”

CHANINA: “Yes.”

AZZI: “And… bonding.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Oh. So… you guys just believe in one god?”

(Awkward silence. The dreidel stops and Berish squints.)

BERISH: “Gimmel! You got a gimmel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “What happens now?”

AZZI: “You win!”

OBLIVIOUS: “The whole game?”

CHANINA: “Yes! Take all the money.”

BERISH: “Great game, everyone! Bye, now! Come again!… Ow!”

OBLIVIOUS: “What? No, now I feel bad. Is this really how the game ends? I get one gimmel and I’m done?”

BERISH: “You think we’re just making this up to get rid of you? Ow!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Here, let’s do another round. Like how about everyone puts in a little more now, and we keep going until one person has all the money?”

CHANINA: “What?! That’s worse!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Hey, I might not win… How do you usually play?”

AZZI (looks around): “Yeah, how do we usually play?”

BERISH: “Oh… (thinking) Usually, usually…”

AZZI: “How about a gimmel gets you four coins and a yud gets you two?”

OBLIVIOUS: “How is it that you guys can’t agree on the rules here? Don’t you play this all the time?”

AZZI: “We mostly argue.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Yeah, that tracks. I actually heard arguing as I was coming toward the cave!”

CHANINA: “No kidding!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Okay, so one of you go.”

AZZI: “Fine.”

(He spins.)

CHANINA: “So… why do you believe in multiple gods?”

BERISH: “Pey!”

AZZI: “Oh, man!”

BERISH: “My turn…”

(He spins so hard that the dreidel flies off the table).

OBLIVIOUS: “Whoa! Careful!”

BERISH (from under the table): “Pey! Oh, man!”

CHANINA: “Here, want to see something? I can spin mine upside down.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Does that get extra points, or—Whoa!”

(Chanina’s dreidel rolls off the table and into the dark. He gets up to chase it.)

CHANINA: “Shin!”

OBLIVIOUS: “You didn’t even look at it.”

CHANINA (looking): “Shin!”

BERISH: “For real?”

CHANINA: “Yeah! Look!”

AZZI: “Why does yours have a shin?”

CHANINA: “It’s made in China.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Okay, I’m spinning… It went under your arm.”

CHANINA (looking under his arm): “Gimmel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Are you sure? It kind of looks like a nun from here.”

AZZI: “That’s because it’s dark.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Under your arm?”

AZZI: “No, the whole cave!”

OBLIVIOUS: “What about clay dreidels? Are those easier to see?

CHANINA: “I don’t know. We made a bunch. None of the clay ones spin.”

BERISH: “I’m still waiting for mine to be dry and ready.”

OBLIVIOUS: “Well, did you leave it in the sun, or in a damp cave?”

AZZI: “Okay, my turn… Whoops!”

(It flies off the table.)

OBLIVIOUS: “This keeps happening. Wouldn’t it be better if you guys didn’t keep doing trick spins?”

AZZI: “It helps pass the time. Pey!”

(Berish spins.)

OBLIVIOUS: “How is this happening that you’re all getting peys? What are the chances of that?”

BERISH: “Uh… nun!”

CHANINA: “My turn!”

OBLIVIOUS: “I gotta be honest; before I got in here, I thought you guys were studying your Torah.”

AZZI: “In the dark?”

OBLIVIOUS: “We heard you arguing and assumed.”

BERISH: “Oh, we argue about everything.”

OBLIVIOUS: “I know. You’ve been kicking each other under the table since I got here.”

(Berish picks up Chanina’s dreidel.)

OBLIVIOUS: “Hey, you know what?”

BERISH: “Hey. Ow! Nun.”

AZZI: “What?”

(Oblivious spins.)

OBLIVIOUS: “You’re not such bad guys, and I feel bad that I’m winning all your money. You don’t even know me.”

(Berish picks up Oblivious’s dreidel.)

BERISH: “Gimmel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Look, if I win, you guys are all coming to my house for a meal.”

CHANINA: “Wait, what?”

OBLIVIOUS: “I will not take no for an answer. Haha.”

(Azzi picks up his own dreidel.)

AZZI: “Gimmel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “Wow! How do you like that?”

BERISH: “My turn… Gimmel!”

OBLIVIOUS: “How’s everyone getting a gimmel now?”

(He spins.)

OBLIVIOUS: “So… Who’s willing to talk politics?”

TO BE CONTINUED, NEBECH.


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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