Mitzvah Maker – Dreidel Man

Dreidel Man

Dreidel Man poses in front of the National Menorah

Dreidel Man is a perennial favorite at the National Menorah Lighting organized by the American Friends of Lubavitch. In an exclusive interview with GTJ, we get to the root of the question “Who is Dreidel Man?”

What is the Menorah Lighting on the Ellipse?
Probably the largest annual Jewish event in Washington – and the premier celebration of Chanukah in the country. Over 30 million people saw it last year – in the US alone.

How many people usually come, and who will be there?
Anywhere from 2000-3000. This year we gave out over 4000 tickets. WH Budget Chief Jack Lew will light the menorah, and Itzhak Perlman will perform, as well as the Three Cantors.  We also expect the new mayor-elect, Vince Gray, and other officials.

How fast can you spin?
If before some L’chaim, not so fast. If after L’Chaim, not to mention my bubby’s latkes, I really can’t tell…

What is the best part about being a dreidel?
Being apolitical in the city of spin. And falling on gimmel and making people happy. Some people say if I fall on Gimmel at the Fed, I might help Director Lew balance the federal budget. We just need some extra Chanukah Gelt to make it happen.

What is your favorite letter to land on?
See above.

How many dreidels are there in the world?
Dreidels? Millions. “Spinners”? Probably too many.

What is your favorite Channukah food?
Sufganiyot. They taste fantastic, especially if there is moderate jelly inside, as opposed to the explosive, compressed two-pounders they sometimes pack in. When I try to sneak a donut at lunch, I inevitably end up with the wrong one – the one which oozes way too much jelly on my shirt to present at the next meeting, so I just go home and light my menorah.

What is your favorite night of Chanukah?
First one, it reminds us again of the ability to create light where there is darkness. And the last night shows incremental but significant progress, which is encouraging. The story of Chanuakh in the Talmud is way more about the oil than the war, because Chassidic thought explains how oil represents refinement and elevation (it floats above other liquids), inspiring us to become more refined and uplifted, not to mention spiritually elevated, in these days.