Elf on a Shelf, but what about Mensch on a Bench? This new Hanukkah tradition first came to life due to “elf envy,” says Mensch on a Bench founder and author Neal Hoffman, who wanted a fun way to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday. He became a Kickstarter success story in 2013 after hitting his $22,000 fundraising goal and selling 1,000 Mensches in less than two weeks.
The doll — dubbed Moshe the mensch (mensch is the Yiddish word for someone of noble character) — watches over the menorah and holds onto the shamash (the “helper” or ninth candle) throughout each night of Hanukkah. Legend has it that if kids have been good, the Mensch will let go of the shamash candle when the parents light the Hanukkah candles, but if the kids have misbehaved, he will hold on tight!
Now in its second year of production, Mensch on a Bench is available at Target stores and on Target.com. Pick up your very own Mensch on a Bench before Hanukkah begins on Dec. 16.