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

Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise

The Starship Enterprise — from the original Star Trek series — has gotten a restoration fit for a real life spacecraft. It goes on display this week at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
NPR

Click For Fewer Calories: Health Labels May Change Online Ordering Habits

Will it be a hamburger or hummus wrap for lunch? When customers saw indications of a meal's calorie content posted online, they put fewer calories in their cart, a study finds.
WAMU 88.5

Jonathan Rauch On How American Politics Went Insane

Party insiders and backroom deals: One author on why we need to bring back old-time politics.

WAMU 88.5

Episode 5: Why 1986 Still Matters

In 1986, a federal official issued a warning: If Metro continued to expand rapidly, the system faced a future of stark choices over maintaining existing infrastructure. Metro chose expansion. We talk to a historian about that decision. We also hear from a former Metro general manager about the following years, and from an Arlington planner about measuring how riders are responding to SafeTrack.

Leave a Comment

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