Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios has acquired TV and film rights to The Mensch On a Bench, a property created by toy maker and entrepreneur Neal Hoffman, to develop as an animated holiday special.
The Mensch On A Bench tells the story of “Moshe the Mensch,” (Mensch is a Yiddish word that translates to “a good person”) who watched over the Jewish people during the great miracle of Hanukkah. Moshe tells the story of the Jewish holiday through adventures that always circle back to values of kindness, gratitude, humor and an independent spirit. Moshe introduces children to the traditions of Hanukkah and teaches them to be good and honorable people, also known as Mensches! Pilgrim says it plans to create an animated Mensch On A Bench holiday special that celebrates the season in a fresh, funny, inclusive way and demonstrates how many of Hanukkah’s themes are universal.
Hoffman says he created The Mensch On A Bench in response to the tinge of holiday “envy” that Jewish kids (including his own) often feel during the Christmas season.
“When my five-year-old asked if he could get an Elf on the Shelf, I joked, ‘We’re Jewish – you can have a Mensch on a Bench!’, said Hoffman. “That’s how the idea was born. It feels great to create new ways for Jewish families to celebrate and participate in the holiday spirit, and I’m thrilled to be working with Pilgrim to make the ‘Mensch on a Bench’ an even bigger part of the season for everybody.”
“We’re always looking for great storytelling and for stories that aren’t commonly told,” said Piligian. “We found both in ‘Mensch on a Bench,’ and we’re excited to launch what we believe will become an enduring holiday tradition.”
Hoffman’s The Mensch On a Bench consists of a hardcover storybook along with a 12” plush doll who holds the Shamash (leader) candle and needs to be moved each night to watch over the Menorah. In 2014, Hoffman took his Mensch on ABC’s Shark Tank, where he struck a deal with investors Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner. Since then, Hoffman has secured deals with major retailers such as Target, Michael’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond, and continues to expand the Mensch brand with books and other plush toys.