Kids these days may know how to use iPhone apps and set up their own Twitter account, but if there's one thing they won't ever tire of playing with, it's toys. Since the world of toys can be pretty overwhelming --Toys R' Us too often resembles the floor of the New York Stock Exchange--it might help to zero in on a certain genre of toys. Like? say? Jewish ones!
There is in fact a huge variety of Jewish toys out there, ranging from the educational to the fun to the downright silly. Take a look through these shining examples we've found, and start showering your children with toys that would make a rabbi proud.
Jewish Holiday Toys
Holidays are the perfect time to introduce your child to Jewish traditions and ritual objects. Start off the Jewish New Year with these colorful plastic shofars (3 for $4.95, Judaism.com) that your kids can toot on Rosh Hashanah. (Our deepest sympathies to your ears.) For Hanukkah, decorate their little fingers with these finger puppets from Zion Judaica ($8.55), including a menorah, dreidel, candle, and potato latke.
When Purim comes along, your kids can eat hamantaschen, and play with them, too. This plush Purim essential from Chai Kids ($3.95) also makes noise like a grogger, so it's a win-win (except for your ears, again.) As it says on Modern Tribe's website, there's nothing cute about boils and the death of first-born sons, but this 10 Plagues Bowling Set ($19.99) is a sure-fire way for your kids to learn about the story of Passover while working on their 7-10 split.
Stuffed Ritual Items
There are plenty of items associated with Jewish rituals that might not be so much fun to play with. However, with the help of some good old cotton stuffing, any ritual item can become soft and squishy enough for a child's enjoyment. Take for instance these stuffed Torahs from Judaism.com ($9.99) that put a happy face on the Old Testament. If you're looking for a toy to fill up Friday nights, Oy Toys has stuffed an entire Shabbat set ($16.99), including candlesticks, a kiddush cup, and challah that will never go stale.
If you're bored of the board games you've been playing since your own childhood, some companies have put a Jewish spin on the classics. KosherLand (OyToys.com, $12.95) is a parody of Candy Land that teaches children about kosher foods by using something called the "Kiddush Ocean", "Matzah Man," and a bubbe. The Jewish Museum Shop offers a fun way for young children to learn Hebrew with Aleph Bet Adventure ($15.00). And then there's Matzah Ball Bingo (OyToys.com, $7.00), a Passover-themed bingo game that is fun for the whole family.
Toys For Dogs That Kids Will Love Too
Ok, so you probably don't like thinking about the similarities between your precious child and a dog, but their taste in toys can at times be very similar. Soft? Squeaky? Fun to put in your mouth? Check. There are surprisingly a large number of Jewish dog toys out there, and ones that any little kid would love to play with, too. Here's Meshugeneh Monkey (OyToys.com, $7.50), Shmutz the Octopus (Judaism.com, $6.95), and the perfect gift for any eight day old boy, the Mohel Scissors (OyToys.com, $6.95).
We get that it's great to teach your children about their culture and religion, but some of the Jewish toys out there are so ridiculous, you just have to laugh. You might want to get these for the sheer hilarity that will ensue when guests come over to play. Let's start with Dancing Matzah Man (Baron Bob, $14.95) who not only dances but sings "The Matzahrena" for you. If your child has any pent up anger over not finding the afikomen at Passover, let them take it out on an inflatable Pharaoh Punching Bag ($11.63) from Bargain Judaica.
Then there is our loveable prophet Moses, who comes in many shapes and sizes. The Moses Action Figure from PopJudaica ($9.99) can fight GI Joe any day with the power of God behind him. Or, if you like your Moses a bit softer, The Jewish Museum Shop offers a plush Moses ($19.95) that's as huggable and cute as any teddy bear out there, right?