Is there a Jewish origin to the game called kugelach which I played as a child in shul? Does it have any connection to the 5 stones Dovid used to kill Goliat?


1 Answer 1


It's a form of a game called "jacks" or "knucklebones". See this. When I was young, I palyed with the round "spiky" jacks.

One day, I visited my frum friends and they asked me if I wanted to play "kugelach". I said, "sounds delicious, especially if your mother made them!" I was serious; they burst out laughing, and brought out this bag of 5 golden cubes. I said, "What did your mom put in these things? What happened?" Then they started throwing the kugelach in the air, and it was only then that I realized what was so funny.

Now if someone can explain how a bunch of stones were called "kugelach", I can relive my naiveté.

  • kugel means small round thing (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel#Etymology). Coincidentally, I have heard this is also related to the slur, kike - illiterate Christian folk signed papers with crosses. Jews used a circle instead. Ellis Island yadda yadda yadda... "kugel" => "kigel" => "kike." Dec 5, 2014 at 19:50
  • @Charles I like that south African Kugel slang. Never heard that before.
    – user6591
    Dec 5, 2014 at 19:58
  • Knucklebones has many, many variants. Kugelach is essentially identical to fivestones. books.google.com/…
    – LazerA
    Dec 7, 2014 at 2:33

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