The Festival of Lights
Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a holiday for those of the Jewish faith and is predicated on a significant event in their history: that being when the Maccabee’s succeeded in their battle against the Greeks. Entering the high temple, they found only enough sacred oil to light the menorah (a branched candelabra) for 1 day. Miraculously the oil lasted for 8 days. So as a celebratory holiday, it has always placed children at the forefront — meaning children are getting presents over a total of 8 nights.
So that’s pretty great for the kids and brings us a new Hanukah tradition to bring families together called Mench on the Bench; a series of toys designed to inspire, teach and bring fun to learning what the holiday is all about. Mench, by the way, is a Yiddish word for someone who acts with honor and integrity and also is kind and considerate.
The Mench on the Bench
Created by a Jewish father, the Mench is a 12 foot soft plush doll accompanied by a hardback book which details the story of Hanukah. It’s tells the story of Moshe the Mench who was in the temple with the Maccabee’s when they won the war against the Greeks, and then what came after. The book details the 8 rules of having a Mench, which is designed to drive Jewish family traditions and reinforce the traditions that Jewish families wish to hand down to their children. Of course all this is placed in a child-friendly atmosphere. And since even a Mench gets tired, a bench is included for the doll to sit on.
And for those into the cold, there’s the Mench on the Bench: SnowMench edition which features, no you got it right, a Snowman version of the Mench (how does he keep that beard from sliding off his face?). But unlike the Mench, the SnowMench not only gives you that happy look but sings too — and provides a rendition of the Dreidel song by the Maccabeats that is done in 8 different musical styles, including rock and blues and rap.
Now for those who treat/remember their Bubbe (grandmother) fondly, there’s Ask Bubbe - The Talking Grandmother Doll. Think Bubbe meets Magic 8 Ball. Got a question? Squeeze her hand and ask and you’ll get an answer. Fair warning - it might not be the answer you wanted. That’s because Bubbe always throws in her advice with a bit of chutzpah (the Yiddish word for extreme over-confidence because they’re always right). Ever known a Grandma who wasn’t? There’s even a dancing version - hoist her up on her chair, form a circle and watch her go.
So a moose is pretty cute and cuddly, but what’s with his antlers? They aren’t antlers, silly, they’re the 8 nights of Hanukkah candles (talk about an unusual Menorah). Cute as it is, it gets even cuter when you press on the Moose’s foot. Because then the candles “light up.” How this happens is detailed in the book that comes with the Moose, and the Mench even makes an appearance in it.
Dreidel Dog and Zebra from Zion
A dreidel is a top, traditionally made from wood, that has Hebrew lettering on it. Kids spin the dreidel and in one of the games we played, if the right letter came up on the face of the dreidel when it stopped spinning and fell down, we won “gelt” (which means money). But in our household it always meant getting a gold coin which unwrapped to be a delicious bite of chocolate. That we ate quickly so our siblings couldn’t swipe it. The Dreidel dog won’t steal your gelt from you and he even has a secret pocket for carrying your own dreidel around too (we don’t recommend putting chocolate coins in there because things can get sticky).
And another pet is here, called the Zebra from Zion. This Zebra is adorable and the included softcover book, The Only Jew in the Jungle (also sold separately), helps teach Jewish kids about leading an authentic Jewish life. This soft plush Zebra is 12” in length and has a Menorah designed in his stripes. That’s cool.
For more about The Mench on the Bench, go to https://themenschonabench.com/shop/