In Medieval Eastern Europe, a game began to spread using a four-sided top with letters printed on it. Those letters stood for “all”, “none”, “half”, and “put in”. When this game was adapted by Yiddish speakers, they used the Yiddish letters gimel, hey, shin, and nun to stand for “gants” (all), “halb” (half), “shtel ayn” (put in), and “nisht” (nothing). Over time this top became associated with Hanukkah.
As the Zionist movement took off, a new tradition emerged: the dreidel was a universal Jewish tradition dating back to the time of the Maccabees themselves. It was called a sivivon, and the letters stood for nes, gadol, haya, sham, “a great miracle happened there.” Furthermore, a new Zionist dreidel emerged in the Land of Israel that read “nes gadol haya po”, “a great miracle happened here.” Finally the land that Jews had pined for for all this time was open for settlement, and they could go there and fulfill the aspirations, the hopes of that dreidel.
As Mizrahim began pouring into Israel from the Muslim world, they had Ashkenazi culture forced upon them – or at least, Zionist culture forced on them. This was a Zionist culture that simultaneously erased the legitimate European origins of many of its traditions, and erased the legitimate Mizrahi traditions of the people coming into the land. All Jews were to follow Hebrew/Zionist traditions and not to speak of Ashkenazi traditions, or Mizrahi traditions, or Sephardi traditions. This system began to be spoken of in Israel, eventually, as Ashkenormativity, by analogy to heteronormativity. But it was a system that was contemptuous of diasporic Ashkenazi culture.
Today, hasbarists have become adept at using words like “Ashkenormativity” in bad faith to attack Ashkenazim who want to reclaim our culture. Talking about Yiddish is divisive, white supremacist, Ashkenazi supremacist, etc.. This despite the fact that authentic Ashkenazi culture is experiencing a sharp bottleneck, where much of what was known as Ashkenazi culture 100 years ago is near extinction, while a small part of authentic Ashkenazi culture is expected to grow and continue (namely that practiced by Haredi Jews). We can start pushing back against this by saying that the dreidel never had to do with sham, with there. It was always about do, here, the diaspora.