You’ve heard of Elf on a Shelf, but what about the newest holiday tradition in town? Mensch on a Bench made his debut at Target this October, and is already flying off the shelves (er, benches).

The new Hanukkah tradition first came to life due to “elf envy,” says Mensch on a Bench founder and author Neal Hoffman, who wanted a fun way to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday. He became a Kickstarter success story in 2013 after hitting his $22,000 fundraising goal and selling 1,000 Mensches in less than two weeks.

The doll — dubbed Moshe the mensch (mensch is the Yiddish word for someone of noble character) — watches over the menorah and holds onto the shamash (the “helper” or ninth candle) throughout each night of Hanukkah. Legend has it, if kids have been good, the Mensch will let go of the shamash candle when the parents light the Hanukkah candles, but if the kids have misbehaved, he will hold on tight!

Mensch on a Bench

Now in its second year of production, the Mensch on a Bench is back, and available to all at Target and on

“Last year, Target would’ve seemed like a long shot,” says Neal. “Now we’re well on our way. Nothing compares to the feeling of walking down the aisle and seeing the Mensch on a Bench on Target shelves.”

With a total upgrade to the Mensch, bench and storybook, this year’s toy maintains Neal’s original vision of incorporating more family time and tradition into holiday routines.

“Our Mensch is a fun little guy who hides gelt treats for my boys, rides around in their toys and sometimes plays tricks on them in the middle of the night,” said Neal. “When different families name their Mensch and include them in their celebrations, it makes me feel great knowing that the toy and tradition make a positive impact in people’s lives.”

Don’t miss out on the fun (or the mischief)! Visit our friends at Target to pick up your very own Mensch on a Bench for Hanukkah.