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Video Shows Hanukkah Dreidel Spinning in Space

A NASA astronaut showed the hack to winning all dreidel competitions when she took the toy top for a spin at the International Space Station on Thursday night.

Hanukkah began at sundown on Thursday, and the eight-day Jewish festival of lights extends through sundown on December 15. Hanukkah traditions include lighting the menorah, singing songs, eating certain foods and playing with dreidels, spinning tops that have four Hebrew letters, one on each side.

Dreidel dates back centuries to 175 BC when the Greek King Antiochus IV outlawed Jewish worship. Jews studied the Torah by playing dreidel to fool soldiers into thinking that they were only gambling. Now, the game has a presence at many celebrations during Hanukkah.

Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli exhibited several of the celebratory actions—albeit she modified the menorah tradition given she was at the International Space Station and real flames behave dangerously in space—during a video she posted on X, formerly Twitter, Thursday night. One of her celebrations included spinning the dreidel, but her environment led to an uncommon outcome for the top. The captivating video quickly went viral amid a trend of public events for the Jewish holiday being canceled as Israel and Hamas continue to clash.

Video Shows Hanukkah Dreidel Spinning in Space
An Israeli boy spins a Dreidel as he takes part in a competition during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in Tel Aviv on December 13, 2009. On Thursday, astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli spun a dreidel at the International Space Station, where the lack of gravity caused the dreidel to spin indefinitely.
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“Happy Hanukkah from the @Space_Station!! Real candles not allowed!” Moghbeli posted with a video that shows a faux menorah stuck to one of the space station’s windows.

In the video, Moghbeli displays a dreidel before spinning it with her fingers. Once Moghbeli lets go, the dreidel spins and spins, gaining speed while floating in midair instead of eventually slowing and falling to one of its sides, as is typical with the game. Astronauts are often photographed floating freely in the International Space Station, and the dreidel was no different. The floating toy didn’t slow its spinning until Moghbeli intentionally bumped it with the camera.

As of Friday morning, the video had been viewed more than 1 million times. Viewers were captivated by the dreidel’s speed and ceaseless spinning, backdropped by the Earth far below.

“This is the coolest little dreidel I’ve ever seen,” one user commented.

“That’s quite a hack to win the Dreidel spinning contest,” another added.

Newsweek reached out to Moghbeli through X for comment.

Typically, dreidel is played between two or more players. Each player has a dreidel and something to use as tokens, usually gelt, or gold-wrapped chocolate coins. Players spin the dreidel, and the letter that is on display once the top stops spinning determines whether the player wins, loses, or draws. Then, the next player spins the dreidel. A player wins once they’ve collected all the tokens in the pot.

Sometimes, people play dreidel by competing against other players to see who has the longest spin time.

One social media user figured out a way to play with Moghbeli from Earth, even though Moghbeli’s dreidel appeared to never stop spinning.

“So, if you do a screenshot while it’s spinning, we can play!” the user commented with a screenshot of Moghbeli’s dreidel in midair.