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Mass. Native Creates Jewish Alternative To Elf On A Shelf

BOSTON (CBS) --- A Massachusetts native says his 'elf envy' led to creating a holiday alternative to Elf on a Shelf for Jewish kids during Hanukkah.

Mensch on a Bench
Moshe The Mensch (Credit: Mensch On A Bench)

Entrepreneur Neal Hoffman, a former employee of Hasbro Toys in Rhode Island, is the creator of "The Mensch On A Bench," a toy and book based on the character "Moshe the Mensch."

Hoffman turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for the Mensch On A Bench toy and quickly beat his goal of $22,000 to cover the cost of production and marketing.

According to the Kickstarter pitch, Hoffman's son Jacob wanted to be like his friends and get an Elf on a Shelf but being Jewish, the answer was no.

That got Hoffman thinking of a new tradition that his son could celebrate and add some more "Funukka to Hanukkah."

Like the elf, the Mensch is able to move around the home and bend.

If its counterpart is any indication, Moshe the Mensch could be a popular item this Hanukkah.

Elf on the Shelf has sold nearly 2.5 million units and seems to gain in popularity each Christmas.

The elf is said to give children incentive to behave from Thanksgiving to Christmas as the mischievous elf shows up different places each morning.

See: Viewers Share Elf On The Shelf Photos

The Mensch on a Bench has a more religious focus and tells the story of Moshe the Mensch when the Maccabees returned victorious from the war.

Mensch on a Bench
Moshe The Mensch (Credit: Mensch On A Bench)

Judah Maccabee was exhausted from the fighting and he wanted to go to bed. But, with only enough oil left for one night, Judah was worried the lights would go out in the middle of the night.

Moshe volunteered to sit on the bench of the Temple and tell everyone if the lights went out.

The book goes on to tell the story of Moshe, his 8 days sitting on the bench, and his love of the traditions that Jewish people have.

The book also includes activities for families to do together each night of Hanukkah.

Hoffman says in the end, his goal is to increase participation in Hanukkah and make it more fun for Jewish and interfaith children.

The set is now available for order in time for Hanukkah, November 27.

The Mensch on a Bench is available for $36 or $75 for a limited edition mensch that includes a blue tallit. Both are available on the website.

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