Former ultra-Orthodox Jew and ordained rabbi Shalom Shore has launched a satirical card game that — ostensibly — seeks to fix “what’s wrong with our generation” by instilling spirituality into game night. Now, even during down time, players can engage in the thought and philosophy of “Judaism, The Best Religion In The Fucking World TM,” as per the game’s crowdfunding page.
Called “Kiruv vs. Humanity,” the game uses the Hebrew word for religious outreach, and riffs on the name and rules of the subversive cult classic Cards Against Humanity (though, as the fundraising page claims, this game is “much more fun”).
The campaign reached its goal in a day. In less than 72 hours, as of this writing, it had garnered dozens of supporters and more than doubled its target sum.
Akin to a highly offensive game of Mad Libs, players pair black — or Sephardic — cards together with white — or Ashkenazi — cards, to form a complete sentence. Each round, a different player assumes the revolving role of “Card Nazi” and chooses their favorite pairing. The winner of each round gets to keep the Sephardic card, and the game goes to whoever has the most Sephardic cards at the end of play. (“This is just one example of how this game is different than real life,” says the crowdfunding page.)
With cards such as “Showing your elbows like some goddamn slut,” and “Eating a heter mechira cucumber like you don’t give a fuck” (as the Sages of Blessed Memory said: “whoever gets it, gets it”), this game is clearly not for everyone.
But 32-year-old creator Shore, who grew up in an English-speaking home in Jerusalem’s Old City, says every detail of the messaging is intentional — from the fundraising page’s release on the Sabbath, when Orthodox Jews refrain from using electricity, to the campaign’s 49-day duration, a number significant in Judaism. And though he is currently living in Toronto, Shore set the campaign’s location as the Boro Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York — a Hasidic enclave with a tongue-in-cheek reputation for being rivaled only by the Western Wall in holiness.
“I think there is a certain genre of religious people who can enjoy this game — I call them ‘frum but cool,’” Shore told The Times of Israel, using a Yiddish word for Orthodox.
“Not everybody wants to make so much mockery. Not everybody appreciates the level of — you know, it’s very vulgar. There’s a lot of swearing. I use swearing as a cathartic expression, and I fully appreciate that it’s not for everybody,” Shore said.
Those who thrive on irreverence can put stock in the crowdfunding page’s claim that “this game will send you to hell faster than you can say ‘pass the cholent.’” But, Shore says, there is also a more somber side to the game’s creation.
“I definitely have a serious mission behind it all to get people to question more, to get people to laugh more at what can be extremely serious and scary ideas, and to get them to kind of shake it up and break out,” said Shore.
“Maybe if someone’s frum and it gets them thinking twice about something, or if someone’s not frum and it helps them laugh at an abusive idea that’s held them down, I see that as a value,” he said.
“One of the interesting therapeutic things about these cards, and what makes them very unique, is that there’s a lot of room for self-expression here, and to me what it did is it highlighted the interchangeability of these ideas,” Shore said.
“So when you get hit with a really intense idea like Satan — and it’s really scary in the right context — if you take the Satan card and you put it up against something really absurd, and you realize that card is being used against you over and over again ad nauseum in a million interchangeable ways, it suddenly diffuses it,” Shore said.