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  1. Spin The Dreidel

From the album With This Flame

A Klezmer-flavored telling of the folk tale about how the dreidel was used to hide Torah study from the soldiers of Antiochus.

Steven J. Kohn: piano, harmony vocals
Renee Paddock: violin, harmony vocals
Clark Paddock: bass
Joe Guerra: guitar
Seth Rosenstein: drums, percussion
Cort Sauerwein: accordion
David Bishop: clarinet

I actually wrote this song based on stories I remembered reading (don’t remember where or when) about how the dreidel was used to fool the soldiers of Antiochus into thinking that what they were seeing, when they barged into a home looking for evidence that the Jews were trying to practice their outlawed religion, was a children’s game rather than Torah study.

Steven Kohn, my producer for this album, called to my attention his understanding that the dreidel was actually invented in the 1930s and was based on a German game of chance. Various sources, including myjewishlearning.com, claim that a similar game has been played “by various people, in various languages, for many centuries.

For my purposes, however, it doesn’t really matter when or where the dreidel was “invented”. My song is a retelling of the folk tale, the legend, call it what you want; it makes a better song.

Check out these links for more information:
www.myjewishlearning.com (The Origin of the Dreidel)
www.chabad.org (Chanukah (Hanukkah), The History

Lyrics

SPIN THE DREIDEL
Words & Music by Karen J Kamenetsky

Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, sing a song
About a time long ago when a little spinning top kept us strong
Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, tell a tale
About a time long ago when a little spinning top helped us prevail

We were oppressed; they said we could not study Torah
They never guessed we did it right under their nose
They would not let us teach our sons the Hebrew language
But the Aleph Bet was right there in that children’s game

Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, sing a song
About a time long ago when a little spinning top kept us strong
Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, tell a tale
About a time long ago when a little spinning top helped us prevail

With every spin, we saved a bit of our tradition
Nun, gimmel, hey, shin, each helped preserve our way of life
That little top is now the hero of the story
We did not stop our dreidel’s spinning still today

Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, sing a song
About a time long ago when a little spinning top kept us strong
Spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, spin the dreidel, tell a tale
About a time long ago when a little spinning top helped us prevail