The Festival of Light is just around the corner, which means it’s time for another season of heart-stopping Major League Dreidel action.
The “season” begins (and ends) on Dec. 17, when hundreds of top-twirling athletes will face off in the “Spinagogue” in front of a crowd of at least 350 Jews (and more than a few sport-loving gentiles).
It’s a dreidel tornado.
“We started out with 32 spinners, which grew into 64 spinners and now this year we have 124 spinners,” said Eric Pavony, the league’s acting “Knishoner.” “We have people coming in from across the country.”
You don’t need to be a bookie to know who the favorites are: 2010 champ Alan “Juspin Bieber” Black, and his ragged band of about 30 die-hard spinners, called Team Smoot, will again make the journey to Brooklyn from Ypsilanti, Mich.
“It all started with my friends who used to play at rock-paper-scissor tournaments in Toronto, but that became too corporate, too mainstream,” said Black. “Then we found out about driedel and that turned into the new thing to do.”
The rules of the game are simple, spin the four-sided top as fast as you can and pray that it gyrates longer than the other guy’s. The trick is to keep your top in the center of the Jewish-star–shaped Spinagogue, this sport’s “Friendly Confines.”
The Spinagogue has been widely credited with elevating the hobby of dreideling into the ranks of America’s most-important sports.
“Before the Spinagogue, people just spun dreidels on kitchen tables,” said Pavony. “This has two problems; one, it falls off and you lose your dreidel, and two, with this vast space, you don’t really give it much thought, you just spin. What we’re looking for is spinners that have velocity and power, but also control and its the combination of those two elements that makes a dreidel champion.”
The fierce dreidel battles aren’t the only draw to this pre-Hanukkah bash — heavy metal band, Gods of Fire, is booked to rock the house with songs like “No Gelt, No Glory” from its classic album, “Hanukkah Gone Metal.”
Hanukkah rock aside, the players are the attraction here.
“It’s a really fun competition, everybody has a blast with their costumes and their names,” said Chris Colluzi, who competes as Gentile Giant. “Eric created a really fun thing out of nothing.”
The champion will receive a year’s supply of chocolate coins and a crystal trophy, but there is another, far greater prize:
“The trophy is engraved with the most important prize of all,” said Pavony, “the title of Major League Dreidel champion, which entails glory, women and fame.”
Major League Dreidel finals at the Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg, (347) 529-6696], Dec. 17 at 6 pm. For info, visit www.majorl