“Thanksgivukkah,” last year’s coexistence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving, inspired 9-year-old Asher Weintraub to create an innovative product that’s sold incredibly well and might even commemorate the 2013 phenomenon for generations to come. The Menurkey, Asher’s turkey-shaped menorah, took social media by storm and earned a visit to the White House, where President Obama honored Asher’s creativity. JLife interviewed Asher’s father, Anthony Weintraub, to find out more about the Menurkey-mastermind, and how a brilliant idea turned into a successful reality.
Has Asher always been a creative kid, or was this a “light bulb” moment? Asher’s always been an idea man, constantly coming up with new concepts or ways to solve things.
How did this become a reality? Many families dismiss their children’s ideas. When Asher heard of “Thanksgivukkah,” he said there should be a turkey-shaped menorah called a “Menurkey.”
I put the onus on Asher to take it beyond the conceptual idea level. He designed it on a 3D-computer program. Then, a friend created a 3D-prototype, and we were on our way.
How did you finance the Menurkey?
I introduced Asher to Kickstarter, and he nagged me about using the platform to gain capital. We made a video, created the campaign page and started a social media campaign.
What’s life like a year later, having received Presidential recognition? Life’s the same, with the addition of a menorah company under our belt. Luckily, none of this went to his head. He’s just living the life of a fifth-grader.
What did you learn about the Jewish community? Was everybody receptive to combining Jewish and secular holidays? Rather than getting slammed by those who might’ve thought the Menurkey to be sacrilegious, we learned that people were open to new ideas. Our boys learned how generous the Jewish community is, and how much they value charity. There were naysayers, but overall it was a unifier rather than a divider.
How has Judaism been instilled into the Menurkey project? Tikkun olam was one of Asher’s main inspirations when considering selling the Menurkey. He wanted to give back to those needing it most. We’ve given away somewhere just south of $15,000.
Can we get a quote from Asher? “I loved seeing something I designed become a product people wanted. Getting to meet the President was awesome!”
Asher, any future plans? “I have many, but I’m not telling anyone.”
Purchase your Menurkey at menurkey.com. It isn’t only a collector’s item, its design exhibits true longevity. As a cool Thanksgiving centerpiece, and humorous Chanukah menorah, the Menurkey is bound to generate interesting conversations.
The next “Thanksgivukkah” is estimated to occur in year 79811. Although none of us will be around to see it, the Weintraubs certainly hope the Menurkey will.
Adam Chester graduated from UCSD with a degree in Clinical Psychology and is the NextGen Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at JFFS.