Shalom Life | December 20, 2014

The Essential Hanukkah Gift Guide 2014: Maccabee on the Mantel [GIVEAWAY]

Our second annual Hanukkah Gift Guide is underway! 8 crazy nights of great gift ideas and giveaways, starting with the ultra-popular plush doll

By: Daniel Koren

Published: November 24th, 2014 in Business » World

GIVEAWAY: Welcome to Shalom Life's 2nd Annual ESSENTIAL HANUKKAH GIFT GUIDE! For the next 8 days, we'll be highlighting the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and we'll also be GIVING THEM AWAY! In order to win a FREE MACCABEE ON THE MANTEL plush doll courtesy of Toy Vey! LLC, SHARE THIS STORY via Facebook and/or Twitter and LIKE both Maccabee on the Mantel and Shalom Life on FACEBOOK. Then send an email to contests@shalomlife.com with the headline MACCABEE.

HAG SAMEACH!!!

It can only be called bashert that the children of Abra Liberman-Garrett and David Wilk would become best friends in kindergarten. Residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they were both raised Jewish, living in an area that was openly Christian. “I grew up in Chicago,” says Liberman-Garrett, “where the visibility of the Jewish holidays was a given. But when I put my children in a secular school, and they scheduled a field trip on the high holidays, I realized that many people here hadn’t met many Jews – they weren’t even on the periphery.”

At one Christmas party the two parents both attended, they noticed the Elf on the Shelf, which had at this point become ubiquitous in most homes with children. “Where’s our Maccabee on the Mantel?” Liberman-Garrett, a freelance writer and pre-school temple instructor, asked Wilk. Though it was more or less a joke, Wilk, a member of a comedy troupe and veteran improviser, jumped at the idea. He challenged her to write a story about the concept, and Maccabee on the Mantel was born, a holiday companion 5,000 years in the making.


With her keen sense of manipulating language, and his years of experience as a co-founder of Four Day Weekend, a critically acclaimed comedy troupe, together they had the production skills and the know-how to put this project together.

Eventually they, alongside the founders of The Marshmallow Fun Co., formed Toy Vey! LLC, in order to distribute and develop the idea as they saw fit. Per their website:

Toy Vey’s ambition, and expectation, is that together families will create a joyous custom that ignites a child’s excitement about their heritage as well as their desire to learn more about who they are and where they come from. This little Maccabee represents a safe and soothing place for all children; he is a friend, a protector, a symbol of their lineage and a smiling nod towards their future. By creating this comforting custom, Dave and Abra hope to serve families much like their own, by strengthening the sacred bonds that tie them to their past…and connect them to their future. They truly do believe that miracles abound.

Maccabee On The Mantel brings alive the story of Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights. In the tradition of Elf on the Shelf, it comes with an adorable, high-quality plush doll and a companion illustrative storybook that, as Wilk tells us, is kid-tested and Rabbi-approved.

“It’s such a cool holiday!” enthuses Liberman-Garrett. “Children know the rituals, they know about the presents and the menorah, but not the genesis of it, which is about fighting for your rights, facing insurmountable odds, and believing in yourself.”

What Liberman-Garett and Wilk were both enthusiastic about creating was a new holiday tradition that would engage their children and provide them with an entertaining time, all while learning about Judaism and developing a connection to Jewish customs. Since the birth of MOTM, the two have produced several YouTube clips to promote their initiative, including one that features Wilk as a life-sized Maccabee, perched awkwardly on a mantel.


“Ultimately, the Maccabee on the Mantel is all about making kids laugh, making them happy and educating them about the holiday and Judaism,” says Liberman-Garett. “It is indelibly rewarding to see these children connecting to the Maccabee – and to their religion – in such a fun way.”

Since the product's inception, Maccabee on the Mantel has received a great deal of news coverage, from BuzzFeed to Daily Motion. With weeks left before Hanukkah, why not start a new tradition with your kids, one that's both educational and fun, with the Maccabee on the Mantel.

Learn more here.

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