Dreidel tournament shows who’s the best at Washington spin

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Just what was Susan Sloan’s secret to executing the perfect dreidel spin among a group of 16 competitors?

“You keep it low on the table, and you spin with your middle finger and thumb and that gives it a nice spin,” she said after winning the dreidel competition last week at Ivy and Coney — a bar in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood.


Sloan, a Washington resident and the assistant regional director of AJC Washington, emerged victorious among the contestants who attempted to spin the Chanukah top as long as possible inside of a Spinogogue — a Star of David-shaped game board with a small platform at the center to launch a dreidel.

Participants were given three spins, and their best time counted. After the opening round of 16, the top 10 advanced to the next round, which was followed by a “Spinagogue Championship” of the final four.

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Contestants used aliases, such as “Donald Trump’s Spin Team” and “Maccabeyonce.” Sloan went by “All I Do is Spin.”

Runner up Aviva Spetgang, aka “Spinderella,” was a half second behind Sloan, with a 12 second top score. The Gaithersburg resident said she had been preparing for this moment for a week.


“Evidently you need to put the dreidel a little in the air before the spin,” she said of her technique. “It gets a little more inertia that way.”

Spetgang maintained her poise throughout the night, but kept on fingers crossed on every spin.

“Having one or two drinks helped, so I wasn’t too nervous,” she said.

Washington resident Aliza Bran came to the bar only intending to socialize. She decided to enter the contest when a participant registered as “Spinning Mind” did not show up.

“Personally, I would have gone for something like ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ or ‘Spin Class: Chanukah Style,’ she said.

 Despite her lack of preparation, Bran made it to round two with spin times of 10.8 and 9.4 seconds. She said she now understands how large of a talent pool there is in Washington when it comes to dreidel spinning.
Customers at Ivy and Coney celebrated the last night of Chanukah by lighting the menorah and going dreidel to dreidel. Photo by Dan Schere.

“You have a lot of very learned dreidel spinning players,” she said.

The host and spin timer was Jeb Gavin, who works for the Landover-based meat producer Meatcrafters, which distributes sausages to Ivy and Coney. Gavin noted that alcohol consumption could have an effect on the game.

“A lot of people have been drinking tonight, so we’ll see what happens,” he said.

But the spins did not disappoint. In the first round, five players broke the 10-second mark, including o ne participant nicknamed “Medusa.”

“All right! A 10-second spin,” Medusa said proudly.

“Uh, that was 12.68 seconds,” Gavin said.

A dreidel spins on the Spinogogue. Photo by Dan Schere.

Medusa then bettered his own record with a 12.87 second spin, longest spin in the tournament. He was eliminated in round two.

As Sloan approached the table for the championship round, she calmly placed the dreidel in the Spinagogue, took a moment to ensure its position and made her last spin. Straight faced, she watched until the dreidel had fallen on its side. Declared the winner, she hugged the other contestants.

Later, Sloan reflected on the serendipitous nature of victory.

“I didn’t choose the name of ‘All I Do is Spin,’” she said, “but sometimes the best things in life just happen.”

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