Images copyright 2003,
Menorah Man is one of seven Jewish superheroes who make up the Jewish Hero Corps.
The Jewish Exponent
ook! Up in the sky. It's a bird.
It's a plane. It's ... Menorah
This guy's a superhero who sports a
chanukiah on his chest, who can sud-
denly grow eight arms and roast villains
with flames flying from his 40 fingers.
With a name like Menorah Man and a
mission to defend the collective memory
of the Jewish people, who else would you
hang out with, besides Minyan Man,
Dreidel Maidel, Matzah Woman, Kipa
Kid, Shabbas Queen and Magen David?
Nearly four decades ago, when he
was 8 years old, Alan Oirich came up
with the idea for what eventually has
become the Jewish Hero Corps. He'd
learned that a Jewish classmate in
school would be celebrating Christmas
instead of Chanukah, and thought of
those public-service announcements
he'd read so - often in comic books.
There, heroes like Superman would dis-
pense life lessons, such as not to play
whatever you want it to mean."
The initial 15,000 copies are mostly
Oirich thought: Wouldn't it be great - He wanted to create a work with a
being sold in Judaica shops, but Oirich
positive message that was also a throw-
if a superhero could tell Jewish kids it
said his creation should reach_main-
back to an era when comics where more
was cool to be into Chanukah?
stream comic-book stores by. anuary.
As he explained, "I came up with a few lighthearted in nature, when characters
He said there most certainly will be fol-
such as The Flash would come into the
characters and storylines," but, being a
grasp of a super-villain and would require low-up issues, but the book's regularity
kid, he obviously couldn't get Marvel or
will depend on how well it sells.
an adept use of his powers to escape.
DC Comics interested in the idea.
And Oirich is hoping to turn the
These elements enticed veteran
Today, Oirich, a 46-year-old freelance
appeal of the Jewish Hero Corps into a
comic-book artist Ron Randall, 47, to
writer and multimedia producer living
franchise. On his web site,
in New York, is the proud author of the join the project. Randall, who is not
wvvwjewishsuperhero.com, visitors can
Jewish, lives in Oregon, and has lent
first issue of Shayach Comics' Jewish
already buy a slew of Jewish Hero
his pen to such titles as- Swamp Thing,
Hero Corps. Judaica Press, a Brooklyn-
based book and software . company, is
mugs, lunch boxes, even a home version
publishing the glossy publication, hop-
of Kipa Kid's "Yarmarang" (a frisbee).
"Drawing a comic book is a labor-
ing it will serve as an outreach and edu-
Like the Jewish community at large,
intensive job," said Randall over the
cational tool for Jewish children
the Jewish Hero Corps is a diverse
phone from his Oregon studio.
between 6 and 14.
assembly. Magen David is Sephardic
"It's nice to feel that there is a worth-
But how do you get kids to put down
(his shield was crafted by a Spanish
while goal in mind."
X-Men, and pick up and read about the
Matzah Woman, we learn,
adventures of Minyan Man, who can, at
actually started out as assimilated
titled "The Amnesia Countdown," pits
will, either multiply into 10 men or
, Hypergirl, making her the comic
Hebrew heroes against enemy robofs,
form one giant 60-foot-tall super-Jew?
world's first bakla teshuvah. Dreidel
called Fobots, who are planning to
"Kids like excitement with conflict
launch a missile from outer space that - Maidel and Shabbas Queemare modern
and resolution," said Oirich, adding
career women in civilian life, while
will erase Jewish memories, a concept
that his comic book provides these
Kid works in a Judaica shop.
"that is intentionally vague. It can mean
elements. "And it can be exciting