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Let My Children Play

Malky Lowinger

Mentshies with tzitzis and shtreimels. A mini chassan and kallah with the entire wedding party. A Chanukah menorah Lego set. This is just a sampling of the newest trend in the Jewish toy market, where — despite higher costs and skepticism about quality — heimishe versions of mainstream classics are becoming more popular than ever.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Walk into the Tree House toy store on Sixteenth Avenue in Boro Park and make a right turn past the cash registers, and there you’ll find the Alef Beis Fun Pad. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to wait your turn while a gaggle of little boys plays with it. This nifty little item, which sells for $19.99, is a computer game that lets you choose between a variety of educational and entertainment activities. It’s similar to many others on the market, except for one major difference: When you turn on the power, the electronic voice of a young child welcomes you in Yiddish with the greeting “Ah gitten tug! Lo mir shpielen tzuzamin!” (“Good day! Let’s play together!”) Binyan Blocks. Mitzvah Kinder. Shabbos Mommy and Tatty dress-up sets. Plush dreidels and sifrei Torah. Gedolim card matching games. Jerusalem jigsaw puzzles. And so much more. There’s a huge variety of kosher toys and games available in English, Hebrew, or Yiddish. There’s also a huge selection of art and craft activities, many of them specifically designed for Yamim Tovim. Welcome to the world of kosher toys, where little plastic mentshies wear tzitzis and yarmulkes and where board games feature timeless lessons of mitzvos and middos. For many heimish manufacturers, the new industry trend presents a surefire business opportunity as well as a venue for channeling their creative and marketing skills. 

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