Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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29 Kislev 5760 - December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Creativity Corner:
Chanuka Vacation Projects - Styrofoam and Glitter Dreidel

by Devora Piha

The dreidel with its constant presence at Chanuka is a given fact. We expect to see dreidels and the menora and sufganiyot at Chanuka time. But, for someone with little or no Jewish education, the sight of the svivon can arouse the basic question of what this has to do with Chanuka. To answer this, we go back in history to about 2200 years to the period between the rebuilding and subsequent destruction of the Bayis Sheni. Jewish men and boys played with tops as a ploy to distract the occupying Greek Syrian soldiers from their true occupation of studying Torah and carrying out the mitzvos, which was done at the risk of death. The Jews understood well that to remove themselves from Torah was greater than the penalty of physical death; it meant eternal death.

An additional significance of the dreidel is that it is spun by being held from the top. This hints that the miracle of the Chanuka redemption came from Above. Hashem's purpose with the harsh decrees was to awaken the Jewish people to the danger of Hellenism, to whose influence many were succumbing. The opposite is observed on Purim with the gragger. We twirl the noisemaker from its handle, on the bottom, to remind us that the redemption in this case followed the tshuva the Jews did for their participation in Achashverosh' feast.

A creative mother deserves the credit for the following Chanuka dreidel decoration made about 30 years ago. She made it with her children. It was recently rediscovered in a box under a pile of old letters and photographs. It had been displayed in my home; this year it will hang in her grandchildren's home and they will recall that she made it as her effort in passing on the timeless message of Chanuka in a subtle, educational and beautiful way.

Holding the styrofoam dreidel in my hands, I notice it still has its orginal appeal after three decades. With the creative technical logistics of the idea worked out for us, we can go ahead and make up one ourselves. The simplicity of this project is in its quickness of execution and in its glittery yet quiet presence. This piece is 12 inches x 7 inches x 1 inch thick (30 cm x 17 cm x 2 cm). There may have been other styrofoam decorations that comprised a set of other Chanuka themes or other dreidels. But this lone one remained. The singular simplicity of this decoration adds just enough of an extra finish to the Chanuka table and does not distract from the message of the menora, that Hashem caused the victory of few over many and saved Jews from spiritual and physical extinction, in those days, as in these.

Hang the dreidel from a ribbon from a lamp over the dining room table or in the living room. Kindergarten teachers can make four tops, each with the letter of the dreidel.

Styrofoam is a versatile and inexpensive material. Cut out an assortment of basic shapes from it. Stars, circles, triangles and squares work well for the standard block sheets. Use large pieces for shapes with several curves to prevent delicate shapes from breaking off. Use your own ideas to beautify your Chanuka children's room or classroom. (Do not decorate windows that have menoras on the sill. Styrofoam is flammable!)


Styrofoam sheet 12 x 8" approximately, or larger

White plastic glue (Elmer's) or glitter-glue stick

Glitter, silver and blue

Exacto knife (sakin yapani) blade. ADULT USE OR SUPERVISION ONLY

Ribbon 12" long approx.

Pencil, paper or plastic cover for work area and protection from knife marks such as a cutting board or sheet of wood to go under the styrofoam

OPTIONAL: spray fixative, hair spray, clear nail polish or varnish


1. Draw a dreidel the full size of the styrofoam sheet directly on the white surface.

2. Or draw dreidel first on a sheet of plain paper. Cut out and use for a pattern over the styrofoam.

3. Cut out shape with knife. Slowly and carefully. Discard remnants.

4. "Draw" with glue nozzle. Squeeze ridges of lines, circles or other shapes. Or cover solid areas with glue for your design. Do not let dry. Immediately sprinkle glitter according to color on glue. The whole thing can be done with a glue-glitter stick but you won't be able to build up any height or ridges with the glue or glitter.

6. Let dry. Repeat for back and sides.

7. Shake off excess glitter flakes onto a piece of paper and pour back into glitter container or discard.

8. OPTIONAL: Apply clear protective cover to prevent glitter flakes from falling off.

9. Make a hole with a pencil at top of dreidel. Insert ribbon and hang.


Most of us are familiar with the festive three-dimensional hanging dreidel made from two sheets of cardboard, one inserted inside the top slot of the other. It is quick and easy and especially attractive when glitter is an option to colored markers or paint.

Give each child a pattern, two sheets of paper, construction paper or cardboard and let them discover the logisitics of three dimensional dreidels.

Size of pattern may be halved from 8 x 12" to 4 x 6".

Adult supervision required. Adult supervision and quality parent-child time are two of the same thing!


Two sheets 8 x 12" heavy paper or thin cardboard, white or colored

Pencil, scissors and ruler

Glitter in two or more colors (blue and silver)

White plastic glue

Optional: glitter-glue stick

12" piece of ribbon, yarn or string


Paper or plastic cover (disposal tablecloth) for work area


Draw outlines of dreidel pattern on full size of paper.

Cut out pattern.

Draw on second piece of paper.

Draw guideline decorations and Hebrew letter in pencil.

Decorate with glitter, let dry.

Shake off excess glitter.

Cut a vertical slit from center top to halfway down the first dreidel.

Cut a vertical slit from center bottom to halfway up the second dreidel.

Insert one dreidel over the other.

Open dreidel for three dimensional effect.

Staple ribbon at top and hang.

Optional: Spray with clear hair spray or clear nail polish to prevent speckles of glitter from decorating your floor.

Devora Piha, our Creativity expert, offers consultation, lectures, crafts groups and instruction for individuals and institutions on creativity and art. She can be reached at 02-9931-592. Creativity, as you have seen, affects all areas of our lives, and should be used to enhance and heighten it.

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Here's to your health!


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