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Mensch (Yiddish: מענטשmentsh, cognate with the German word Mensch meaning a "human being") means "a person of integrity and honor".[1] The opposite of a "mensch" is an "unmensch", meaning an utterly unlikeable or unfriendly person.

According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, a "mensch" is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous."[2] The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual's qualities.


In Yiddish, mentsh roughly means "a good person".[3][4][5] The word has migrated as a loanword into American English, where a "mensch" is a particularly good person, similar to a "stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague.[6] Mentshlekhkeyt (Yiddish מענטשלעכקייט, German Menschlichkeit) refers to the properties which make a person a "mensch".

During the Age of Enlightenment, in Germany the term Humanität, in the philosophical sense of "compassion", was used in Humanism to describe what characterizes a "better human being". The concept goes back to Cicero's humanitas, which was literally translated as Menschlichkeit in German, from which the Yiddish word mentsh derives.

Mensch on the Bench[edit]

"Mensch on the Bench," a stuffed toy that looks a bit like a rabbi or a Hasidic Jew, was created as a Jewish counterpart to The Elf on the Shelf.[3][7][8] Jewish father Neal Hoffman, a former Hasbro Toys toy marketing executive, raised more than $20,000, using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to fund creation of the toy in the Spring of 2011.[7][9][10][11][4][5]

Cody Decker, the starting left fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, brought the team's mascot, a five-foot version of "Mensch on the Bench," with him to Asia from the United States for the World Baseball Classic.[3][12][13] Decker said he "tried getting him a first-class ticket. But that didn't fly, so he was put in a duffel bag and checked."[14] The mascot proved to be a big hit.[3][12] He has his own locker, sits on Team Israel's bench in the dugout during every game, and sat alongside Decker at a press conference in South Korea.[4][14][15] Decker said:

He's a mascot, he's a friend, he's a teammate, he's a borderline deity to our team.... He brings a lot to the table.... Every team needs their Jobu. He was ours. He had his own locker, and we even gave him offerings: Manischewitz, gelt, and gefilte fish... He is everywhere and nowhere all at once. His actual location is irrelevant because he exists in higher metaphysical planes. But he's always near.[4]

Team Israel Manager Jerry Weinstein said: "He's on the team. Everybody brings something to the team, and certainly The Mensch is a unifying factor for the ball club."[3] Pitcher Gabe Cramer said: "The Mensch on the Bench is ... a symbol we can rally around as a team. We are proud to be Jewish, but we know how to make and take a joke, something Jews have a long history of doing. The Mensch is a great way to have fun in the dugout while reminding us of why we're here and who we're representing."[16]

See also[edit]