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Mensch On The Bench: A Jew-ish Tradition

The+Mensch+on+the+Bench+also+comes%0Awith+a+book+that+tells+the+story+of%0AHanukkah+through+the+eyes+of+a+true%0AMensch%2C+Moshe.+%28Photo+from+Amazon%29
The Mensch on the Bench also comes with a book that tells the story of Hanukkah through the eyes of a true Mensch, Moshe. (Photo from Amazon)

As the holidays approach, lots of people begin to prepare for their annual traditions. Whether they are for Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, traditions offer the perfect chance to have fun and make the holidays special for your family.

One Christmas tradition that is very popular for those who celebrate is the Elf on the Shelf. During the month of December, parents and older siblings will continue to move the elf every night so that when the younger children wake up, they get to see the elf doing something new every day. This simple tradition has
turned into elaborate scenes with parents making elves look like they are baking, decorating, and more.

For those who celebrate Hanukkah, this type of tradition has been missing for a long time. Younger kids can play dreidel with gelt or help make latkes in the kitchen, but there are not as many funny and enjoyable traditions. Many children felt left out as all of their friends celebrating Christmas would talk about their elves every day.

This eventually led to a more Jewish form of the elf being made. The Mensch on the Bench has become the equivalent of the Elf on the Shelf for many Jewish households. A “Mensch” in the Jewish culture is someone who is always kind and is looked up to as a leader of morals in a community. Moshe was one of the original Mensches, so he became the blueprint for the Mensch on the Bench. This toy teaches the importance of the holiday of Hanukkah while also being a fun replacement for an Elf on the Shelf. Parents can move the Mensch around every night and surprise their children in the
morning.

Many high school students now look back on their family tradition of the Mensch on the Bench fondly as it made them feel included in the fun of
the holidays.

“It was fun because it included the Jewish side of the holidays that is sometimes not included as much,” said Junior Bella Marx.

Sophomore Lila Cooper shares how important the Mensch was for her, “It was really fun to still get to have some of the same traditions as some of my friends and it was fun to wake up in the morning and see the Mensch.”

Many children play with the Mensch throughout Hanukkah. It created memories with siblings and was something that whole families could participate in.

Bella Marx remembers playing with the Mensch with her sister, “We would feed it crackers and it would leave us notes. My sister and I loved finding him every day.”

For many Jewish children who felt left out of the fun of the Elf on the Shelf during the holiday season, the Mensch on the Bench was the perfect toy to make them feel special and included. Families treated the Mensch like an elf while also using it to teach stories of kindness and the holiday of Hanukkah. The Mensch on the Bench may not be a normal or old tradition for many Jews, but it shows the Jewish culture through a children’s toy and is now a loved part of the eight
nights of Hanukkah.

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About the Contributor
Haley Roth, Associate Editor
Haley Roth is a sophomore at The Benjamin School, and is a second-year staff writer for The Pharcyde. Haley has attended the Benjamin School since kindergarten. She enjoys going to the beach and spending time with friends. Haley enjoys writing for The Pharcyde as she gets to be more involved with the Benjamin community.

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