Beth Israel hosts digital dreidel tournament

Beth Israel dreidel tournament
Beth Israel dreidel tournament (Screenshot by Jesse Berman)

It’s no secret a dreidel can be made out of clay. But can one be fashioned from electrons?

Beth Israel Congregation went searching for the answer Dec. 15, when the synagogue organized an online dreidel tournament. Held over a group Zoom session, the session saw about one or two dozen participants, largely children, logging in to compete over virtual currency, not to be confused with Bitcoin.

Following a Chanukah candle lighting ceremony using a digital menorah, the participants were divided up into different breakout rooms, where they were provided with a link to a website that featured an online version of the ancient game. Upon accessing the site, participants were prompted to register their names, and the game began. At each player’s turn, the specific player would click the “Spin” button, which would trigger an animation involving the virtual dreidel landing on either gimmel, nun, hey or, of course, the dreaded shin. The game would end when one final player remained with all of the gelt.

“Everybody seems to be having fun, even though we are a little bit smaller in numbers than we were hoping,” said Becca Rosenfelt, Beth Israel program coordinator. “But as long as everybody is laughing and having fun, it’s a success in my book.”

Those who registered received gift bags containing Chanukah gelt and dreidels. They also had the option of purchasing sufganiyot.

“I’m hoping that next year we’re all together again, and able to actually play dreidel in person,” Rabbi Ariel Platt said. “But if not, we’ll try a virtual dreidel again.”

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