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The Bear Family: Benny Bear Becomes a Bear

Yael Mermelstein

“We should have a mascot, you know, someone dressing up as a bear of course, during the carnival. And of course it should be Benny Bear”

Thursday, February 02, 2017

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Photo: Shutterstock

I , Benny Bear, was not in a good mood. I’ll tell you why. But please don’t go sharing it with the world. It was an embarrassing predicament, to be honest. It all started the morning Rabbi Shoen told our class, “We’re having a school carnival to raise money for people who don’t have enough money to buy shoes.”

Everyone applauded. After all, not being able to buy shoes is a pretty rough place to be in. Our eighth-grade class was always happy to help.

“We need to think of a theme for the carnival,” Rabbi Shoen said.

“How about feet?” said Akiva Minkowitz. “We can blow up foot balloons and everyone can walk around without shoes and we can hang shoe decorations.”

“That’s a very interesting idea,” Rabbi Shoen said. “But I had something a little, um, different in mind. Something cute for the younger grades that gives over the message without bopping them over the head with it.”

Shimmy Halami raised his hand.

“Yes, Shimmy?”

“What if we call it ‘No more bare feet’ but we spell it b-e-a-r like the animal and our whole theme is bears. Like, you could win teddy bears as prizes and we could have games like shoot the bear off the bicycle.”

“Uh, isn’t that a little violent?” I said.

“Okay, so tip the bear from the bicycle,” Shimmy said. “And kids can guess how many gummy bears are in a jar and stuff like that.”

“I think that’s just the idea I was hoping for,” said Rabbi Shoen. “It’s sweet and it gives the message over.”

“Wait!” Akiva said, brightening. “I have an idea. We should have a mascot, you know, someone dressing up as a bear of course, during the carnival. And of course it should be Benny Bear because, you know, his last name!”

Everyone cracked up. Chortled. Snickered.

Here’s the thing. In fifth or sixth grade you can get away with saying, “No way am I dressing up as a bear,” but if you back out of something like that in eighth grade, you just look like a spoilsport. So… “Sure,” I said. Then, for effect, I bared my teeth and growled. Everyone laughed. Ha, ha, ha.

Now do you understand why I wasn’t in a good mood that afternoon?

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