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Toy Vey

What not to buy this holiday season

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It can be so hard to find the perfect Hanukkah gift. Here are some non-starters to non-inspire you. Peruse them all, then buy your child a book.

Plush Mohel Scissors

Plush Mohel Scissors

The perfect gift for a new baby, a jealous older sibling, or a little feminist who is really, really annoyed about the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

Available at, $6.95 plus shipping.

Ten Plagues Finger Puppets

Ten Plagues Finger Puppets

Why does hail look like Conan O’Brien? Why does darkness look like a throwback to a minstrel show? Why would you encourage your child to put a slain first-born on his wedding-ring finger? Is it some kind of subliminal “marry a Jew or you’re dead to me” messaging? You know what, just put the other nine puppets away and have your kid walk around with the dead first-born on his ring finger, croaking “Redrum! Redrum!” It will freak out your college student cousin who got high in the car before coming in for latkes.

Available at Judaica Enterprises, $18 plus shipping.

Star of David 3D Glasses

Star of David 3D Glasses

Your child is asking uncomfortable questions. Why does everyone have a Christmas tree except us? Why doesn’t Santa visit my house? Why do all these twinkling lights make me feel so lonely? Before you cave and get a Hanukkah bush, slap a pair of Star of David 3D glasses on the kid’s face and watch his eyes light up! Every bulb, streetlamp, and Christmas light he sees will be transformed into spinning holographic images of Jewish stars. Crisis averted!

Available at Gemini Specs, $1.95 plus shipping.

Samson Action Figure

Samson Action Figure

Wait, his hair is plastic. I guess we could melt it. I totally know where Mom hides the matches. Or we could try to carve it with the electric knife you stole from the drawer. God, could his face look any less badass? He looks like Hannah Montana’s dad.

Available at, $29.95, eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime.

Harvey Nagila Dancing Doll

Harvey Nagila Dancing Doll

True story. My dad got us this toy when Josie was tiny. Josie took one look at its impassive, sunglassed face and clung to my leg. When Harvey began shimmying to Hava Nagila, she screamed and crawled behind the couch so fast she left skid marks. Harvey sat, unloved, on a shelf for three years until Maxine was born. We took it down again. Because we are stupid. When Harvey began to clap, Maxine let out an inhuman wail, covered her face, and started shaking. She became haunted by it, her own personal dybbuk, and, in a ritualistic fervor that would make Freud proud, insisted on watching it dance over and over, quaking as it scared the bejeezus out of her. Buy Harvey Nagila and you too will know this fun.

Available at Traditions Jewish Gifts, $17.95 plus shipping.

Techno Draydel with Lights and Sound Effects

Techno Draydel with Lights and Sound Effects

Do you miss the rave scene of the carefree early 90s? Give little Ezekiel a bottle of water, a glowstick, some massage oil, and this toy. Crank up the Goa trance and let him spin around the living room. He already has the pacifier.

Available at Jewish Book House, $4.79 plus shipping.

Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards

Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards, Collectors Edition

“OMG, Dad, you spent $918 for this?! Why? Why do you expect me to live your dreams? I hate baseball! I just want to dance!”

Available at, $918 plus shipping.



From the product description: “Travel through KosherTown—pass by Bubby, the Kiddush Ocean, and Matzah Man—but don’t listen to the Latke Men Marching Band or you might get stuck in the honey! Be the first to make it to the kosher home, and you win!” But what if I pass the pig-trotter tortelloni with mustard broth and daikon at Momofuku?

Available at, $9.47 plus shipping.

Hanukkah Harry

Hanukkah Harry

Are you secretly jealous of the O’Shaughnessys’ Christmas decorations? The cure for what ails you is a seven-and-a-half foot, menorah-totin’ Jewish snowman perched on a dreidel! What child won’t be thrilled to find this giant creature looming in his front yard? What yearning-to-assimilate teen won’t be mortified to have friends drive past her home this holiday season? Nothing contributes to in-group identification like humiliation!

Available at Hanukkah Harry, $139.95 with free shipping.

Talking Queen Esther Doll

Talking Queen Esther Doll

Um, are you sure you won a beauty pageant? Were the other contestants. . .biological women?

Available at, $19.99 plus shipping.

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Judith Nusbaum says:

I’m in total agreement: I usually give gelt in multiples of 18 if it’s in shekels or just $18 and let the grandchildren pick out the book themselves.


I’m grateful that my kids are grown up and my grandchildren have parents who are much too sensible to either give, or put on a wish list, any of these items.

Although, as a baseball fan, I might consider the Jewish Major Leaguers cards (but not the more expensive “collectors’ edition”.)

More proof that Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas:
Hanukkah stockings for the mantelpiece, Hanukkah tree ornaments, and Hanukkah crackers: those traditional English foil-wrapped cylinders filled with small novelties and candy.

This is too funny! I am reading it at work and it was hard not to laugh out loud.

Iolanthe says:

I have several pairs of the Star of David 3-D glasses that I keep in my Chanukah box. They turn the flames on the menorah into magical, fiery stars of David! What’s wrong with that. We enjoy them every year and get a kick out of looking at each other with our silly glasses. Come on, people, lighten up!

i didn’t even LIST the toilet seat cover with “a great miracle happened here” written on it (what’s so miraculous? it’s not like it’s passover, when managing to use the toilet really IS a miracle, which i mention only because i am so klassy), or the “ayshes chayil” doll (she comes with a copy of proverbs 31 and some cookie cutters — but she’s made by a christian toy company, and they call her “abigail” rather than “the ayshes chayil doll” but YOU CAN’T FOOL ME, CHRISTIAN TOYMAKERS, i know from proverbs 31), or the “jewish old maid” card game (write your own joke about how you win the jewish old maid card game).

iolanthe: we kid because we love.

i have the 3D jewy glasses too (a gift from genius cartoonist Ellen Forney!) and love ‘em madly.

No-one ever went broke underestimating the taste of modern American Jews shopping for Chanukah.

HL Mensch-kin.

Some of my grandchildren observe Chanukah, some observe Christmas. I do not give them gifts on holidays anymore (I did when they were toddlers.) Now I give them one big gift on their birthday. I have them write a list and they know I will choose one to send them.

This is so hysterical!! And maybe that’s the problem — manufacturers are trying a bit too hysterically to tap into the Hanukkah market. Really good for a few laughs, though!

Stephanie says:

The Harvey Negilah blurb was absolutely hysterical. The best of a very funny bunch.

Mark K. says:

Over the years we’ve gotten a bunch of these things. I spend my days studying deep profound Jewish texts, and frankly, I just love taking a break with my kids to play with the kitchy stuff. And it also seems to grab them in kishkes–after studying all seriously (well, as seriously as a first grader and preschooler can study) about this important pious stuff in day school to be able to blow off some steam by playing with ridiculous Jewish-themed toys. If only so many of the toys were not muktzeh . . .

georgianna says:

Harvey Nagila looks an awful lot like Latke Larry who sits atop my refrigerator year ’round. The voice is that of Jerry Stiller so I just can’t put it away.

For the record, the mohel scissors is actually a dog chew toy. Although, that doesn’t REALLY make me feel all that much better.

I don’t know…if the kids are going to beat the crap out of each other’s action figures, should’t we at the very least turn it into a teachable moment???

And the techno dreidel is a great choice for anyone you don’t like.

Kosherland is actually way better than “Magical Mitzvah Park” which is not only a lame game, but also has absolutely zero Jewish content. Plus it’s not even kosher – they serve ice cream with the hot dogs at the park.

Lindsay Dearinger says:

I have to agree that the Harvey Nagila blurb was superb. I definitely see the resemblance to Latke Larry.

I rather thought the Esther doll blurb was hilarious, as well.

C’mon, Marjorie, the Queen Esther doll isn’t that bad looking… Kinda looks like Kaballah-loving Demi Moore, actually!

Richard Marcus says:

Judah Mack Truck Abee
Music and Lyrics by Richard Marcus
They drove diesel rigs outta Modeen town
The Macabee brothers, known for miles around
Lead by big brother Judah they were honest and good
Each 18 wheeler had a star on the hood.

(spoken) “The Star of David: Ma-GHEN Da-VEED”

And every year they loaded their rigs
With supplies for a special Hannukah gig,
Helping any family down on their luck
Those folks depended on the Macabee trucks.

Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee!
He’d never bow down to no one,
His brothers were the same.
Macabee is Hebrew for “hammer”
And they lived up to their name.
They’d sooner die standing up
Then to live down on their knees.
Those stars on the hood
Were there for good.
For Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee

Well, the Middle East was the Wild, Wild West
Life on the highways was cheap at best.
Black top bandits roamed far and wide
At night, even Smokey stayed safe inside.

But the Macabee boys had their Hannukah run
So they went to fuel up, do what had to be done.
But some slime ball thugs from a desert tribe
Blockaded the pumps, demanding a bribe.

Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah don’t bend his knee
He’d fight just to be free
Judah Mack Truck-abee!

The outlaw boss flashed a greedy smile,
Said: “This here’s all the fuel for a thousand miles.
You’ll pay our price and obey my command:
Take down those stars or you’ll die where you stand.”

Judah’s voice was steady, he was cool,
He said “You’re thieving scum but we’ll pay for fuel.
But touch that star, and I’ll make you a ghost.”
The thug reached out, he was matzo toast.


Well, that desert gang started blasting away.
And darned if their bullets didn’t ricochet
Off of Judah’s star, then hit the pumps.
A ball of fire was the end of those chumps.

When the dust had settled The Macabees gave thanks
Though they had only one day’s fuel in their tanks.
“Boys, put your rigs and your faith in gear.
We’re gonna roll,” said Judah,
But The Big Guy steers.”

Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee!
He’d never bow down to no one,
His brothers were the same.
Macabee is Hebrew for “hammer”
And they lived up to their name.
They’d sooner die standing up
Then to live down on their knees.
Those stars on the hood
Were there for good
For Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee

They put their shetl to the metal, started to jam
From Modeen, Jerusalem to Bethlehem
Hebron, Ber’sheva, Eilat on the sea
Gaza, Tel Aviv then Galilee.
They hit Jericho on fumes and prayers,
But every family in need got their share.
One day’s fuel stretched eight days ‘n nights.
And as they lit their menorah lights
They knew miracles came when the heart does good,
“We just followed that six pointed star on our hoods.”

Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee!
He’d never bow down to no one,
His brothers were the same.
Macabee is Hebrew for “hammer”
And they lived up to their name.
They’d sooner die standing up
Then to live down on their knees.
Those stars on the hood
Were there for good
Judah Mack Truck-abee!
Judah Mack Truck-abee!

Copyright – Jack-Knifed Big Rig Music 2005 Lib of Congress

Cathleen Zepelin says:

I haven’t laughed so heartily in a long time! You know, some things really do get lost in translation.

Will M. says:

Wow. Hanukkah Harry. $150 for literally the worst thing ever? Seems steep. For my money, I’d rather permanently damage the children for $18 with Harvey.

I chair the Judaica Shop for my synagogue and there are some Hanukkah items I will not bring in – the dog toy Mohel scissors, Harvey Nagila and anything that resembles “lights” for trees.
However, I must admit I did buy the Passover finger puppets. The young children enjoyed playing with them and did not get the “dead firstborn on the wedding ring finger”. Parents seem to like this better than the previous “Plague Set” that included red food coloring dye.
Overall, I enjoyed your article very much.

y’know, Tacky Tourist, i can see the Demi Moore in Esther there!

Hannah, good call. I actually bought a similar set of finger puppets (and also a set of plagues masks) at the JewMu gift shop in nyc. teachable moments!

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy says:

Thanks for the comments section on this one page about a totally innocuous subject. Why not add one for the Palin piece by Seth Lipsky? That way I could explain how if I wanted right-wing drivel I would have paid for the Sun. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in that opinion.

Bring back Nextbook.

There’s another toy you may add to the list — a toy tefillin. Needless to say, the straps pose quite a hazard even for children over 3.
I also touched on the topic of gifts at

A well researched site, I’ll link to it from my site thanks

If there are video games taht have truly stood up to the tests of time, it’s the Sonic The Hedgehog video game series.
Back in the days when video games for the most part were just plain clean fun and not the gorefests they are now, Sonic The Hedgehog was and still is the defining video game series of my lifetime.
The controls are very good.
While many would argue that the graphics are dated and while they may be very dated by 2004 standards, this game was many years ahead of it’s time and I still love every moment of this game.
One of the greatest things about this classic video game that I have enjoyed was the MUSIC! WOW! Looking back on it now, I have to say that the music was just amazing for video game music. I could very well say that I remember the music almost by heart. My favorite level music was on the

our christmas lights this 2010 would be made up from light emitting diodes which does not generates so much heat”*

it is wise to choice to select Light Emitting Diode christmas lights becaue they are not fire hazard ~,”

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Toy Vey

What not to buy this holiday season

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