This year Jews yearning for their own version of the “Elf on the Shelf” Christmas doll-and-book sensation can now choose between two rival products.
One, “Maccabee on the Mantel,” offers a 10-inch plush sandals-wearing, bearded Maccabee and accompanying picture book that touches on the Hanukkah story. The other, “The Mensch on a Bench,” is a 12-inch plush bearded doll named Moshe, who also comes with a book that tells the story of Hanukkah. “The Mensch on a Bench,” which will be featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” this Friday night (oy, Moshe, working on Shabbos?) not only has his own prayer shawl and black hat, but also comes with an added accessory: a bench. (Mantel not included with Maccabee on the Mantel.) (UPDATE: Two investors on “Shark Tank” agreed to invest a total of $150,000 in “Mensch on a Bench,” in exchange for 15 percent of the company.)
All of this made us wonder: Why only two “Elf on the Shelf” knockoffs? And why limit ourselves to plush dolls (and male ones at that) when there’s a whole universe of toy possibilities? So we at JTA, together with our friends at MyJewishLearning and Kveller, came up with a suggestion for each night of Hanukkah. If you make a fortune marketing any, be sure to send a percentage our way. (And be sure to share your own suggestions for Hanukkah-themed novelties in the comments section below.)
MOTEL AT THE KOTEL
This miniature “Motel 6” at Jerusalem’s Western Wall Plaza comes with its own set of dolls — each with a free morning coffee in hand.
GELT ON A BELT
You never know when you’re going to feel the need for a chocolate-y snack. This snazzy accessory lets you easily take Hanukkah gelt wherever you go without having to worry about it melting in your hands. (We can’t promise it won’t melt around your waist, however).
CANDLES ON SANDALS
With this Hanukkah menorah, there’s a place for a candle between each toe. (The shammash hovers between the feet — a modern Hanukkah miracle!) Specify your shoe size when you order.
PRESENT ON A PHEASANT
This 12-inch plush fowl comes with a beautifully wrapped surprise gift, wrapped tastefully in Hanukkah colors.
HAGEL IN A BAGEL
Some critics thought former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wasn’t pro-Israel enough. But here he shows his philo-Semitic bona fides as he surrounds himself with American Jewry’s favorite roll with a hole.
SHEITEL ON A DREIDEL
Get your wig into the holiday spirit with this dreidel-shaped sheitel holder. Comes with a jewel-studded hairbrush.
DORA THE EXPLORER WITH A TORAH
The Nick, Jr. heroine comes ready to chant the week’s Torah portion for you. Purple and pink prayer shawl, matching yarmulke, and the adventure book “Dora’s Menorah” sold separately.
DREIDEL IN A CRADLE
Your dreidel gets tired after a long night of spinning, so rock it to sleep in this comfy cradle.