A Dreidel in Time 

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A Dreidel in Time book coverWhat the Book is About:

Devorah and Benjamin want to get the candle-lighting over with so they can open their presents, but Bubbe thinks they need to focus on the true meaning of Hanukkah. She gives them her special dreidel, which takes them back to the time of the Maccabees. Judah suspects that Devorah and Benjamin are spies, but the kids use their resourcefulness and courage to overcome his suspicion and help the Maccabees defeat Antiochus’s army.

Jewish Content and Values

  • The focus of the book is the story of Hanukkah – the Maccabees’ struggle against Antiochus’s army and the miracle of the oil.
  • The family lights the Hanukkah candles. The name for the type of menorah intended specifically for Hanukkah, Hanukkiah, is used.
  • The game of dreidel is briefly explained.
  • Devorah mentions Sunday School and that she is having her bat mitzvah.

Positive Role Models

  • Bubbe wants to teach the children not to focus on the material aspect of Hanukkah; she gives the children the time-traveling dreidel so that they can learn the true meaning and values of the holiday.  
  • Devorah and Benjamin bravely risk their own safety to help the Maccabees defeat Antiochus’s army.

Content Advisory

The parents of the kids’ friends Simon and Shoshana are taken away by the soldiers before the events of the story. It is implied that they have been killed.

Talk it Over

Benjamin puts himself in harm’s way by attracting the soldiers’ attention so that Devorah can escape and warn the Maccabees that the army is coming. What would you do in his situation? Can you think of a less dangerous plan?

More for You

The dreidel, the ancestor of today’s spinning top, is reputed to date back to ancient Greek and Roman times, when tops were used in gambling. One theory of how the dreidel came into being is that when the ancient Greeks forbade Jews from studying Torah, the Jews would play with the top while learning Torah together orally. If the Greeks found them, they would only see a group of young men gambling and would let them go.

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