NPR : Tell Me More

Meet Mensch On A Bench, Jewish Counterpart To Elf On The Shelf

Play associated audio

During a visit to a store last holiday season, Jewish father Neal Hoffman felt bad telling his son Jake that he couldn't have an Elf on the Shelf. The widely popular Christmas toy is intended to watch children's behavior for Santa. Hoffman kept thinking, maybe there could be something similar, but rooted in Jewish tradition.

Hoffman, a former Hasbro employee, decided Mensch on a Bench was the answer. "A mensch means a really good person. It's a person that you strive to be," he says.

He raised more than $20,000, using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, last spring. Since then, the interest has been tremendous. After the product arrived "we sold out in two weeks," Hoffman tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More.

Hoffman decided early on that Mensch on a Bench wouldn't be just a toy. An accompanying book is inspired by the story of Hanukkah. In it, a fictional character called Moshe tells Judah and the Maccabees he will watch over the oil while they sleep in the Temple. "They say, oh Moshe, thank you so much. You're such a mensch sitting on that bench, watching over the oil!"

He also created eight rules for having a mensch. "They range from singing and playing dreidel and doing latkes with your family, to having the mensch watch over your menorah. ... Also, one night of Hanukkah, you're not going to get presents. You're going to go out ... buy presents for somebody in need, and you're going to give them to somebody else."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

From Tahrir To Tiananmen, 'City Squares' Can't Escape Their History

Governments have tried to erase the evidence of some squares' troubled pasts, but that doesn't mean they've been forgotten. A new book gathers writers' thoughts about famous squares around the world.
WAMU 88.5

Eating Insects: The Argument For Adding Bugs To Our Diet

Some say eating insects could save the planet, as we face the potential for global food and protein shortages. It's a common practice in many parts of the world, but what would it take to make bugs more appetizing to the masses here in the U.S.? Does it even make sense to try? A look at the arguments for and against the practice known as entomophagy, and the cultural and environmental issues involved.

WAMU 88.5

A Federal Official Shakes Up Metro's Board

After another smoke incident and ongoing single tracking delays for fixes, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a shake-up of Metro's board.

NPR

Bitcoin's Maker Revealed? Australian Man Says He Is 'Satoshi Nakamoto'

Craig Wright, 45, is an entrepreneur whose name has often been mentioned in conversations about Bitcoin's creator; in recent months, he was also investigated by tax authorities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.