Kids love Laurie Berkner and her joyous, infectious kids’ music. Her 1997 song “We Are the Dinosaurs” is one of the most beloved modern American kids’ songs, encouraging kids to march and roar like dinosaurs — an activity widely beloved by most little ones, including my own toddler. Her covers of childhood classics are also delightful.
Berkner has released over a dozen children’s albums in her long and prolific career as the queen of “Kindie rock,” and this year she has gifted music-loving Jewish kids a very catchy new version of the classic Hanukkah song “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” (also known as “I Have a Little Dreidel” or “The Dreidel Song”).
My son finds this joyful and klezmer-y song imminently danceable, and may or may not have urged me to listen to it on repeat an unreasonable number of times — but I’m not one to tamper down his Hanukkah spirit!
Along with the successful cover of this classic, Berkner debuted an exciting new Hanukkah video and adorable little animation that teaches kids how to play dreidel.
For those who need a refresher: If the dreidel falls on the Hebrew letter nun, you get none; shin means you put one piece of whatever it is you’re playing with (usually gelt!) into the pot; hey means you take half of the pot of offerings on the table and gimmel means you take them all (and perhaps also do a little victory dance). The game is over when one player wins all of the gelt!
Watch Berkner, with the help of some animated dreidels and gelt, break it down:
Berkner is not Jewish, though she does have Jewish roots — her maternal grandmother was Jewish but converted to Catholicism. But this isn’t Berkner’s first venture into Hanukkah music. As part of her 2014 Christmas album, she recorded a Hanukkah song called “Candle Chase.” Back in 2017, she also released a delightful video for the song: