THE JEWISH NEWS
A WeekiN Review
Editorial, Page 4
of Jewish Events
Copyright C: The Jewish News Publishing Co.
VOL. LXXX, No. 17
17515 W. Nine Mile, Suite 865, Southfield, Mich. 48075 424-8833
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December 25, 1981
Jewish Leaders Challenging
U.S.-Israel Pact Suspension
The Spinning Dreidel
Is Some 500-Years Old
By DR. DAVID GEFFEN
World. Zionist Press Service
JERUSALEM — My first experience with a dreidel was as a
lad of 4 living near an army camp in Mississippi where my father
was then stationed as a judge advocate. I came home one day to
our one-room flat and found my mother busily shining a Hanuka
menora. She had also taken out a couple of ancient looking lead
tops which were, in actuality, dreidels made by her father when
she was a young girl.
Inquisitive as to what
they were, I looked them
over carefully, made out the
Hebrew letters nun, gim-
mel, hei, shin, and then
tried to turn them. I began
to play in earnest. When I
finally got tired and let
them rest a bit, my mother
looked at me and said, "If
my father were only alive to
see his grandson playing
with dreidels he had lov-
ingly fashioned. Today you
have become the newest
spinner in our family
The name dreidel de-
rives from the German
word "drehen," meaning
to spin. According to
game historians, the
four-sided top was a well
known toy quite popular in medieval Germany. That top
had an N for nichts (nothing), G - gantz (all), H - halb (half)
and S - shtehl (put). These four letters were transformed
into Hebrew characters on the Jewish dreidel. This game,
possibly as long as 500 years ago, became a highlight of
European Jews' Hanuka festivities since the celebration
emphasized all types of joyous activities, even gambling to
which the dreidel readily lent itself.
The late Prof. Sidney Hoenigh explained the inclusion of the
dreidel into the Hanuka observances in another fashion. "Sym-
(Continued on Page 5)
NEW YORK (JTA) — Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, has sent a telegram to President Reagan requesting a meeting for
his organization "to discuss the apparent deterioration in the relationship between our country and
our country's friend and ally, Israel."
Squadron's request followed the announcement last Friday that the United States suspended its
agreement on strategic cooperation with Israel because Israel had failed to consult with the U.S.
before it annexed the Golan Heights. Other Jewish leaders also attacked the Administration's move.
Squadron also criticized the U.S. vote in the United Nations Security Council supporting
a' Syrian-drafted resolution declaring Israel's action in annexing the Golan "null and void"
and threatening to take "appropriate measures" if the decision was not reversed. "We are
deeply disturbed that our country has joined the lynch mob at the UN in supporting the
Soviet satellite Syria — a state that refuses to make peace (with Israel) — while punishing our
friend and ally, Israel," Squadron told reporters.
It is even more distressing that the White House should add to Israel's isolation by suspending
the U.S.-Israel agreement on strategic cooperation. This agreement was not a 'favor' to Israel. It was
entered into by our government in . order to strengthen the defense of the Middle East against Soviet
aggression. To suspend this agreement . . . will weaken our ability to deter and respond to the
Soviets." The reaction of the U.S., Squadron added, was excessive. The double standard it implies is
Jack Spitzer, p9sident of 'Bnai Brith,
termed the suspension of the agreement on
cooperation "short-sighted," a step that
"can only weaken America's -- and the
West's — position in the Middle East."
Maynard Wishner, president of the
NEW YORK — Assassinations, anti-Semitism, ag-
American Jewish Committee, said the
gression and terrorism dominated this year's Anti-
suspension of the strategic cooperation
Defamation League of Bnai Brith list of "Top Ten" events
agreement "is inappropriate and harmful
that impacted on human rights.
to American interests." Henry Siegman,
According to Nathan Perlmutter, ADL's national di-
executive director of the American Jewish
rector, who prepares the annual list, the assassination of
Congress, termed the U.S. move "an unfor-
Anwar Sadat and the attempts on President Reagan and
tunate overreaction" to Israel's decision to
Pope Paul II were "nightmares of how deep, how violent
annex the Golan. "By using the first avail-
and how unbearable our netherworld is."
able pretext to suspend the strategic con-
He lists the terrorist attacks against synagogues in
Vienna and Antwerp as reminders that-"homicidal anti-
sensus agreement, the Administration
Semitism is one of Europe's longest-lived traditions."
leaves itself open to a charge of bad faith."
He warned that the continuing Soviet invasion of Af-
Similar statements were issued by,
ghanistan represents a "dire risk to our freedom."
among others, Ivan Novick of the
Also cited was the "incremental legitimization of
Zionist Organization of America,
the PLO in matching ratio to the West's increasing
Rabbi Sol Roth of the Rabbinical
dependency on petrodollars" as an "ugly and melan-
Council of America, and Harold
choly" demonstration that "virtue has ever been for
Jacobs of the National Council of
ADL Lists 1981's Top
Human Rights Events
(Continued on Page 5)
(Continued on Page 6)
Hanuka Customs Vary Widely Throughout World
By FERN ALLEN
World Zionist Press Service .
JERUSALEM — Children in Yemen clad in blue would pretend they are Hasmo-_
nean soldiers fighting the ancient Greeks, at the same time as the smell of shortbread
cookies made with goose fat fills the air of a home of Czechoslovakian origin on Hanuka
night. And in Israel itself, a torch relay lights up Modiin, the site where the Jewish revolt
the Greeks began.
Throughout the world, Hanuka, the festival commemorating the triumph of the
el,vs over the religious and national persecutions imposed by the Greeks, is marked by a
wide variety of games, festivals, foods and folk tales.
While traditional observances. such as lighting the menora and eating foods made
with oil are almost universal, several customs unique to each Jewish ethnic group have
been incorporated into the holiday celebration.
As children in most countries spin the dreidel — a form of Hanuka gambling
which recalls the Ma6cabean miracle — children in Iran play other games of
chance such as tachte-ner, similar to the game of shesh-besh which is popular in
Israel. Yemenite children make their dreidels out of nutshells, but the dreidel
may come in lead, wood, plastic or glass.
Foods are cooked with oil to recall the miracle of the one small cruse of oil found in
the Temple N‘vhith lasted eight days. Potato pancakes abound in American homes as well
as in other countries. Doughnuts are also usually eaten in Israel arid all over the Jewish
world. Many East European homes cook their food with goose fat instead of conventional
As the Czechoslovakian mother bakes her shortbread cookies with the poultry fat,
many other East European families use it to fry turnips, radishes, olives and onions for a
salad known as retakh. The ingredients are used because they were popular iri the
Maccabean period. Since the carrot harvest in Yemen coincides with Hanuka, most
Jewish families from there feast on lahis gizar, a type of carrot stew.
The custom of giving Hanuka gelt (money) is non-existent in Moslem countries, but
seems very common in countries where Christianity is the 'dominant religion. It is
believed that this custom may have been transferred from Purim to Hanuka to compete
(Continued on Page 5)
These lead lamps from 19th Century Europe, in the form of chairs, are
inscribed with the initial letters of the Hebrew phrase "A great miracle happened