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Toy Vey

What not to buy this holiday season

Marjorie Ingall
November 23, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, 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

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

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

Available at, $19.99 plus shipping.

Marjorie Ingall is a columnist for Tablet Magazine, and author of Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children.

Marjorie Ingall is a former columnist for Tablet, the author of Mamaleh Knows Best, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review.