As moms pull out their Elf on the Shelf this weekend (traditionally, they come out Thanksgiving weekend), Jewish kids all over no longer need to be envious of yet another Christmas tradition they don’t get to partake in.
Let me introduce to you Maccabee on the Mantel. My kids have named him Bob.
This new toy (hoping to become your newest holiday tradition) comes in a keepsake box with a doll and a book. The book explains a little about Hanukkah and what a Maccabee is — the word literally means “hammer” — and describes in kid-friendly terms how the Maccabees (soldiers) helped the Jewish people fight for religious freedom.
Contrary to the Elf that can’t be touched, or he will lose his magical power to report back to Santa on whether or not your kiddies are being naughty, this little guy can be snuggled and taken all around town.
My kids are a little older, but they had a lot of fun finding our Maccabee in interesting situations — so much fun, in fact, that when I suggested donating the book and doll to our synagogue, I got looks of outrage from my 8-year-old. Here are some of the places Bob ended up during his stay with us:
1. It’s not a Sunday morning without bagels.
2. That’s actually a menorah we got as a wedding gift from my mother-in-law. Bob loved it.
3. I don’t care how long you’ve been playing the dreidel game. Another year rolls around, and you know you’re looking up which letter gives you half the pot and which allows you to take all!
4. Bob found some friends to play with… and the lucky little guy kept landing on Gimel.
5. Grandpa cuts the challah while our Maccabee looks on.
6. Chatting on the phone.
7. Sitting on top of a very ’80s Bar Mitzvah sign-in board.
8. Will you just taste the soup!
9. Even the Maccabee recognizes the importance of adding money to our tzedakah box.
10. Not sure how he ended up there. I think he must also have an unhealthy love for Sharknado.
11. It’s not Hanukkah without piles of Hanukkah gelt.
12. Bob the Maccabee and Reggie the Labradoodle got along great. He even taught our pup a few new tricks.
13. Roxie the Lab/Hound mix, on the other hand, wanted to eat poor Bob. Luckily, he was nice and secure in her Hanukkah bandanna.
14. It’s not a Jewish holiday without some good ol’ Manischewitz.
15. Very good reading!
17. Bob came to work and got to taste-test some delicious Hunger Games: Mockingjay cookies.
18. And we took his portrait.
19. Back at home, our Maccabee is sneaky and liked to spy on the kids from high up.
20. And he liked hanging with the ladies after the kids went to bed…
21. Thinking about his waistline around the holidays, he made sure to have some of this green smoothie.
22. Hanging on the stairs with his mini-Torah in hand.
23. Time for Grandma to swipe some more Sweet’N Low from the local diner…
24. Woohoo! His first subway ride!
25. Getting a cuddle in with some cat friends. They were much calmer than the dogs.
26. So this is where they keep the good wine. Never having that Manischewitz crap again!
27. Smile for our Maccabee.
28. Friday night services at temple with the family. Life is good, folks. Life is good.