Got Elf on the Shelf Envy This Hanukkah? Meet Mensch on a Bench!

If your family celebrates Hanukkah and has Elf-on-the-Shelf envy, this one's for you.

I grew up in a household that celebrated both Hannukah and Christmas -- and trust me, I always knew there was no competition between the two holidays.

Let’s face it: Christmas is just more fun. It brings flying reindeer and a magical man who delivers presents, not to mention festive songs, twinkling lights, gingerbread houses, decorations, and movies like A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. (Christmas wins just for giving us that Jimmy Stewart classic alone!)

Hanukkah, on the other hand, brings us a menorah, some blue and silver garland, Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, and that top-40 hit, “I Have a Little Dreidel.”

Of course, we of Jewish faith try to make Hanukkah more exciting. (See: Hanukkah bushes and edible Hanukkah houses.) But we’ve never been able to make the Elf on the Shelf -- the toy that watches children and reports back to Santa -- a member of the tribe. Until now.

A former Hasbro Toys employee has created The Mensch on a Bench, a plush doll named Moshe who appears in the weeks before Hanukkah to watch over your menorah. (Yes, your menorah.) A hardcover storybook is included and it tells how Moshe was with Judah and the Maccabees when they won the war against the Greeks long, long ago. Apparently, he sat on a bench and watched the menorah all night to make sure it didn’t burn out. Judah called him a Mensch for doing so, the name stuck…and here he is. He comes with rules of being a mensch, he keeps kids in line, and he’ll supposedly put “more funukkah into Hanukkah.”

The Mensch on a Bench has sold out this year, but you can pre-order your very own for next Hanukkah. So, am I running out to get one? Um, well no. If I have to choose between an adorable little elf with rosy cheeks and an old man grasping a candle and wearing a prayer shawl, then Christmas wins yet again.

Dina Roth Port is a freelance writer and author of Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions.



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