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Mishegoss – Hanukkah


The First Hanukkah Stamp

In October 1996, Israel and the United States issued the “Hanukkah Stamp,” the first stamp to be jointly issued by the two nations. The stamp designed by Hannah Smotrich featured a colorful menorah and the phrase – “A great miracle happened here” – on the tab. The design was created using cut colored paper, a medium she used to create cards for the holidays. She chose the colors and background “to emphasize the upbeat nature of a playful, joyous holiday.”

Dreidel World Records

The Estate Diamond Jewelry store in New York crafted the world’s most valuable dreidel. Taking four months to create the 4.20 carat diamond top carried a price tag of $70,000!

In 2017, at the Boy Scouts of America National Jambopalooza, 965 dreidels were spun setting the record for the most dreidels spinning at the same time. One year later with the help of Manischewitz, the students at Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey managed to get 1,369 dreidels spinning. Alas, there was no Guinness Word Record official present at the event and their record remains unofficial.

Are We Playing Teetotum?

Teetotum is a spinning top that is used in games of chance. The earliest records of teetotum go back to circa 100 BCE and is described as a cube shaped 6 sided die threaded on a spindle. Teetotums in the Roman period usually had 4 sides. The most common game played is called Put and Take with a number or letter on each side signifying the action to be taken. In Latin Teetotums were marked with A=Aufer (take), D=Depone (put down), N=Nihil (nothing) and T=Totum (all). In Germany the letters on the side of the top were N=Nichts (nothing), G=Ganz (everything), H=Halb (half) and S=Stell ein (put one it). Seem familiar? Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin.

George Washington A Tale on Miracles

It has been reported that General George Washington first learned of Hanukkah at Valley Forge. The story goes that General Washington was intrigued by a private’s odd looking candlestick. The private was one of a number of Jews who fought in the revolution with the Continental army and when questioned he told Washington the story of Hanukkah and the victory of the Jews over a superior tyrannical force. Washington thanked the private and responded, “Perhaps we are not as lost as our enemies would have us believe. I rejoice in the Macabees’ success, though it is long past…It pleases me to think that miracles still happen.” There is no proof that these events really happened, but there are some who believe that when Washington had lunch at the home of a Jewish merchant, Michael Hart in Easton, Pennsylvania that he explained how he learned about Hanukkah. This story is also unverified but there is no doubt that this lunch meeting was probably the only kosher meal Washington was ever served!


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