(All photos by Shannon Cottrell. Click images for entire dreidel slideshow.)
Last night I took part in an extreme effort to break the dreidel spinning world record, orchestrated by the Santa Monica Synagogue on Third Street Promenade. As I write this, I can feel the skin on the tips of my calloused thumb and middle finger stiffen while the “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” song races through my mind on a loop. I am tired, the way any athlete feels after a competition, my body flooded with endorphins, my chest heavy with anxiety as I sit here waiting for word of victory or defeat.
Before the competition I chatted up SMS Rabbi Jeff Marx who told me that the Temple Emanuel in New Jersey holds the world record with a total of 541 people who spun dreidels simultaneously for at least 10 seconds. “Why should it be East Coast?” Marx laughed. Forget Tupac versus Biggie, this West Coast rivalry is alive and strong. California knows how to dreidel…
way for the community to come together and we're very excited about it.
It's a nice way to involve all our non-Jewish neighbors as well.”
As I watched hundreds of synagogue members, families, friends — even tourists — gather around the Promenade's Menorah, I began to think we might have a chance at winning.
After signing my name on a roster, I was given a sticker that read number “902” and a red plastic dreidel. A spin-off novice, I plopped myself down on the sidewalk to practice and (hopefully) perfect my technique. As the clock neared our 7 p.m. start time, the Mayor of Santa Monica, Ken Genser, took the mic to say a few words. “This must be proof that when I became mayor, people [said] this city would spin out of control,” Genser laughed. He encouraged the crowd to help make Santa Monica the dreidel spinning capital of the world and, with that, we were off, huddled in circles and spinning our dreidels on the sidewalks like kids shooting dice on a hot summer afternoon… except this was a December night and we were damp, runny nosed and cold.
How did we fare? To be honest, I don't know yet; the results have yet to be tallied and announced but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, enjoy the photos.