Attention everyone who ever thought they celebrated Hanukkah (even those of you who casually dated a Jew once in college or just watched too many Seinfeld reruns). DREIDELS AREN’T REAL! Now, this was a bit shocking to me, too. I’ve been pretty Jewy since my conception way back in 1984. I mean, I’m pretty sure my dad’s sperm was already considering medical school when it hit my mom’s Loehmanns-loving egg. So I spent the next 28+ years spinning dreidels every December in sincere hopes of winning some of that awesome chocolate Hanukkah gelt. It wasn’t until I married an Israeli that I found out the truth…
Last year around this time I said something to Yossef (husband) to the effect of “Hey let’s buy some chocolate dreidels, they make me feel so festive.” He gave me a totally blank look. I looked at him, tilted my head, and said, “bro, we need dray-dulls… am I not making sense?” He waited a minute, stared back at me some more, and said “what’s this dry-dell ting?”
Obviously at this point my head was spinning. What do you mean what’s this dreidel thing? It’s your people, the people of Israel, that made dreidels up. For Christ’s sake, wake up! Honor the top-spinning Jewy youth of yesteryear and let me have a friggin’ chocolate dreidel. It took me a minute, but I realized something was wrong. I considered two possibilities: either I was pronouncing the word “dreidel” so terribly that he couldn’t even make the word out, or he had lied to me the whole time about being a Jew just to get in my pants. Since the latter was unlikely (he constantly smelled of hummus and I can’t imagine anyone faking the Jew thing and getting a thick accent just to sleep with a girl who is so constantly cranky from low blood sugar and lack of lipgloss), I quickly pointed out that maybe I was saying it wrong. So I sketched a little dreidely-looking thing on a napkin and said, “here, this, you spin it… I want it in chocolate.”
Finally he responded. You mean “sivivon?” I happily said something like “OK, sure…” and nodded my head.
He went on to explain that Americans coined this “dreidel” term, and that the real, Hebrew word had actually been sivivon all along. Dreidels, are in fact, a mythological little figment of Jewish imaginations. What I’d like to know is why, if we American Jews were running around making up faux-Hebrew words, we wouldn’t come up with something considerably phlegmier. I propose we rename penises that have been through circumcision (brit millah) “chuppletutzes.”
That’s all. Happy Hanukkah.