NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — If you thought dreidel spinning was just something Jewish families did for fun during Hanukkah, think again.
In this week’s Sweet Spot, our Mike Sugerman learned just how serious the game can be when he entered the “spin zone.”
He met Eric Pavony, a self-proclaimed “Knishiner” of Major League Driedel.
“Welcome to 2019 Major League Dreidel. Got to spin it to win it!”
For the uninformed, dreidel is played by children during Hanukkah, a spinning top that uses Hebrew letters in a gambling game. But Major League Dreidel spins a whole different competition.
Every year, Pavony helps to organize the annually held event in his Brooklyn bar, Full Circle. This year, 32 contestants showed up, all with punny names to compete with.
Contestants like “Torah-dactyl,” “Jew-venile,” “Gefilte Witch with a B” and “Gentile Giant” competed for the top prize.
They spin in a carefully constructed “Spinagogue,” designed by Pavony, who came up with the idea more than a decade ago and has had the competition off and on since then.
Among those competing in 2019 was the reigning champion: “Virtual Dreidel.”
“I’m the defending Major League Champion and a four time champion overall,” he told Sugerman.
He’s been spinning a dreidel for much of his six decades on Earth, but this is serious business.
“This is competition, and you never had to deal with pressure. It was just fun and games. This is pressure. It’s a competitive thing. You have to keep those nerves under control,” he says.
Another contestant told Sugerman that there’s really no strategy to win, which makes it all the more nerve-wracking.
“Don’t want to jiggle your hand too much before letting go. Then it’s just luck after that,” said contestant Michael Gross from Queens.
In the end, Major League Dreidel crowned “Black Shabbat,” whose real name is Christian Long, with a long spin of 15.47 seconds. In second place was contestant “Jew-serious?”
They take home a “Spinagogue” board and 2020 Calendar of Nice Jewish Guys photographs.