By Renata Terrazzan
In the recent years, there has been a holiday tradition that works for both those who celebrate Christmas and those who celebrate Hanukkah. Some may know him as Elf on the Shelf and some may know him as Mensch on the Bench.
Neal Hoffman wrote the book titled Mensch on the Bench after his son asked him if they could have an Elf on the Shelf. Because they were Jewish, Hoffman said no, but decided to create a Jewish version of the little sneaky boy, and so Mensch on the Bench came to life.
The book is focused around the classic Hanukkah tale, but offers a twist – the Mensch watches the Menorah while the Maccabees are asleep. The Mensch, much like the Elf, serves to teach kids how to behave and to treat other with kindness. The book even has rules, that the kids must give a present to someone in need instead of receiving a present on one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Now the Mensch is found in hundreds of Jewish homes around the holidays. These two characters have allowed kids to share a tradition between religions, which will hopefully teach the kids something that neither Hoffman or Carol Aebersold and and Chandra Bell (the authors of Elf on the Shelf), respect and understanding for other cultures at a young age.