The Maccabee on the Mantel – A Review



When I was growing up the Jewish holiday of Chanukah was considered a simple 8-day celebration with family, a few dreidels and a menorah (Chanukiah).  By the time I had children of my own – Chanukah became a multi- zillion dollar industry!  Why the change?

Many believe it is because of more and more interfaith families. Others think that parents wish to provide for their Jewish children an experience akin to families who celebrate Christmas.

So, when the Elf on the Shelf – a little elf doll from “Santa’s workshop”,  made its’ debut a few years ago – it became quite the media and marketing sensation.  Now enter the Maccabee on the Mantel,  a plush toy with a storybook.    At first I was a bit skeptical – was this another way for someone to market to interfaith families?

As an educator who for a decade taught Judaics in a Jewish Sunday School, I was pleased to see an educational book that told the story of Chanukah and also included a song and blessings.  Then I went on to the website and learned a whole lot more from  “behind the scenes”.  The Maccabee on the Mantel is the brainchild of Abra Liberman-Garrett,  and mom of two.  The website offered this as a reason for her creation:

…And so she conceived the concept of a disarming and charming Macabee, a little boychick who would spread sunshine and delight to all the Jewish children who had him in their home.  Abra’s children positively reveled in the joy of this modern tradition in the making.  Now it is time to share this miracle of a Macabee with all those who are looking to create a fun family custom of their own.

For parents wishing to help share their Jewish culture, history and religious insights – this website is a welcome addition.  I usually would put an age rating on a review – but this unique box set could be for young and old.  The price is set for the box set – $34.95 on their website. Extra Maccabees and books can be purchased separately.  Click here for their online store.


For additional fun go to Youtube and check out the videos from the “Maccabee on the Mantel”. 

8 Wishes for the 8 Nights of Chanukah


CHANUKAH is a holiday that has been celebrated by Jews worldwide which commemorates the story of the Maccabees and gives all of us a little lesson about miracles. This year for Chanukah I have decided to make 8 separate wishes, one for each night we light the menorah.  I hope the wishes come true and that you all will make your own list of “wishes”.


1- May this year be filled with prosperity, the best of health and peace for all! (This is a given “wish”.  Perhaps some may say this is a universal “wish”).

2- None of us fall off the fiscal cliff, especially since WISH #1 is not likely to happen to all.

3- That calories consumed during all holidays are negated. The Chanukah potato latkes will be worth ZERO points on Weight Watchers. The chocolates on Valentine’s Day will make you LOSE weight.  You get my drift.

4- Prince William and Kate Middleton will have a healthy baby GIRL and name it Diana.

5- We will not hear ANYTHING about Lindsay Lohan, her good for nothing parents or the entire Kardashian family – ever again!

6- Brad, Angelina and the whole Jolie-Pitt family get married in a quiet ceremony and then celebrate by adopting two more kids from polar opposites of the earth (Iceland and Chile?)

7- Everyone takes personal and family safety seriously. First by taking up a CPR class and making a family disaster preparedness kit!

8-  People laugh more, complain less and be kind to each other.



p.s Feel free to add your “8” wishes below.


Madelyn and Jake, two of our SIGNING FAMILIES KIDS

This year I made a new holiday sign language video with the help of some really awesome kids! Feel free to check out Madelyn, Jake, Samantha and many more in our Just for Kids Holiday Signs Video. (See below or click on the link to go directly to YouTube)

Almost daily I post sign language instructional resources and information to help those in the special needs communities on my  SIGNING FAMILIES FACEBOOK page.  

Want to make a New Years Resolution to Learn SIGN LANGUAGE? Check out our new online courses on the SIGNING FAMILIES website and tons of links to help you on your way!


Black Friday/ Small Biz Saturday/ Cyber Monday- My Picks!

I would like to think that I come from a  family lineage which includes lots of great shoppers.  It often has astonished me that NONE of my family members were named “CLEARANCE” or “SALE”.

Seriously, I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you some Black Friday/ Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday secrets and top picks!   I also encourage you to add your own!


Electronics! I must tell you that this is the year of the “i”.…. iPad, iPhone, iMac ,iHOME and more.  Also the MAC AIR has been given a hearty thumbs up by techies around the world.  I for one have loved the applications that can be added to the iPad and iPhone.  So, take advantage of this years’ sales… particulary VERIZON who is rolling out the 4G version of the iPhone with a special plan.

I also am a PC lover, too.  I don’t discriminate.  I own both MACs and PCs.  Electronic stores love me.

Furthermore, great bargains can be snatched up for GPS systems, television sets and Bluetooth devices.  I know that STAPLES, BEST BUY and other box stores are advertising amazing sales for these items.  Just be forwarned- go early to get the best deals.  And if you plan on taking advantage of WALMART and TARGETs sales- be prepared to bring a meal, a line holder (meaning a second person while you escape to “potty”) and warm/comfortable clothing!   Look online before you shop.  Sometimes they offer free shipping and that means you can sleep in on Friday!

And give the gift of learning to your family with one of my favorite choices-ROSETTA STONE.  Consider pairing a Rosetta Stone language set with a surprise trip to another country!    Nothing beats the Winter blues then a trip to Italy or the South of  France!


Every locale has great stores that are known in the area.  This would be a great time to snatch up an item that you have spied for some time and have  waited for the price to be a bit more to your liking.  Don’t forget that wine stores often have holiday specials during the weekend and are mainly family owned businesses.  Also, outdoor and sporting equipment shops- like bike stores- can be a super choice for gift buying.  Compare and save!

In addition, don’t forget the ONLINE small businesses.  No time is better than the present to look for a very special PRESENT!  Consider perusing online catalogs of well known mom groups.  And if you are one to gander over Craigslist you may find local businesses advertising there , too.  Just buyer beware and please be safe about using online sites such as Craigslist!

I have scoped out several mom and pop shops that are ONLINE- these are some of my new faves:

Tea Pots PEACOCK POTTERY–  Check out the great ceramic gifts straight from Poland.  I loved the Christmas Ornaments and must confess did not wait until Small Biz Saturday to order!  They are already in my home and wrapped!

The BOYS STORE– This is a unique store with “stuff” only for the testesterone makers in your home! It is so much fun to peruse this website.  I loved it! Owned by

Suzanne Remington who I interviewed.  Listen to the interview here:  Louise Interviews Boys Store Owner- Suzanne Remington

Seasons of My Heart - a Culinary Journey through Oaxaca, Mexico SEASONS OF MY HEART! ¡Me gustan mucha Susanna Trilling y SEASONS OF MY HEART ! “

This is a company owned by Susanna Trilling who has created an authentic and fun cook book- SEASONS OF MY HEART! This is not a “how to make an easy taco” cookbook, but an authentic read about  Mexican culture juxtapose  with amazing recipes. This is the ultimate coffee table book, too!   If you have a person in your home that LOVES to cook Mexican food (caliente!) then this is the gift for you! Available online at

Susanna also offers a destination vacation/cooking class in her very own Oaxaca, Mexico kitchen!   English and Spanish are spoken in her kitchen!

CYBER MONDAY–  Cyber Monday is Black Friday for those who don’t want to move off their desk chairs!  Or for people like me who need to continue the shopping frenzy a few more days!  Best deals can be found on virtually any website- particulary those who are HUGE like AMAZON, EBAY, and more.   Don’t forget other great niche sites too, like SIGNALS.

And when all else fails or the creative juices stop flowing….. there are always gift cards!

Louise Sattler is a “professional shopper” who also finds time to be a psychologist, owner of SIGNING FAMILIES™ and a media personality (HerInsight Media Network).

She too participates as a biz owner in Saturday SMall Business Shopping Day.  Order from SIGNING FAMILIES™ via PAYPAL on Saturday, Nov. 27th with PAYPAL and Louise will rebate you 10%.  Shipping is free, too! (US and Canada only)

FIND LOUISE’s PRODUCTS and many others here at Holiday Gift Guide, 2010