Move Over Elf, There's A Maccabee On The Mantel This Holiday Season

Two Jewish parents, a company named Toy Vey!, and a lot of chutzpah bring you the Maccabee on the Mantel Box Set, a plush, smiling Maccabee soldier with an accompanying hard cover children’s book about Hanukkah. The idea was conceived by Abra Liberman-Garrett when she began to see her school-age children pine for the shiny and fun traditions of Christmas the way she did when she was young. To give them a modern holiday tradition while still honoring their culture, Abra developed a fun and new way to celebrate Hanukkah. The Elf on the Shelf is going to have to move over because there is now a Maccabee on the Mantel and he’s about to start a new holiday tradition…tradition!

When Liberman-Garrett and her Episcopalian husband had children she was determined to teach her own children the games, feed them the food, and instill in them a love of their Judaism. She totally did. But just as she was a self-described closeted Christmas lover as a kid, her own kids gravitated away from Hanukkah and toward Santa and Rudolph. While lamenting this to another Jewish parent also married to a Christian spouse, a joke led to a reality. With the help of this Jewish parent and friend, Dave Wilk, Maccabee on the Mantel is ready to take Hanukkah to a new level of dreidel spinning fun.

The Maccabee on the Mantel tells the story of the Maccabees and Hanukkah in rhyming text that appeals to kids of all ages with wonderfully fun watercolor pictures on each page. At the end of the book, the prayers are listed in both Hebrew and English to help interfaith families understand the meaning of the holiday together.

When I got married, I bought Judaism For Dummies to help me learn some of the history, holidays, and Yiddish my Jewish partner grew up with. I also got a Jewish mother-in-law in the marriage, so I probably didn’t need the book—she has a way of reminding me of many things. Though Judaism For Dummies taught me that a Jewish mother-in-law likes to remind her children through nagging. Lots of nagging.

The Maccabee on the Mantel also includes a page to write your own Hanukkah traditions. From latkes and gelt to lighting the menorah with family and friends, parents can document how they celebrate their Jewish faith while kids get to choose how they want their Maccabee doll to be part of the action.

Take him to Temple; hide him each night; let him hold the Shamash. The ideas are endless. Perfect for the uniqueness of each family and creative enough to not get old. It’s so creative that Creative Child Magazine awarded Maccabee on the Mantel the product of the year. Not bad for a 5,000 year old story getting kids excited about their culture and heritage.

Maccabee won’t replace his elf friend, but that’s not really the point. Winter can be long and dark and holidays are a special way to celebrate new and old traditions with family and friends, even if those traditions are different from our own. So light a candle, perform a Mitzvah, and get excited about Hanukkah. Move over Elf, Maccabee on the Mantel has a story to tell too.

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