St. Louis native wants to test your “Jewish cred” with new party game

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Dan Pine , J. The Jewish News of Northern California

Ever find yourself arguing over who’s the best Jewish nerd in TV history, or which treyf food you wish could be kosher, or why Jews leave stones on graves? Now you can figure out the “answers” to those questions and others — 82 in all! — by playing Jewish Card Revoked, a new game aimed at MOTs in a party mood.

(By the way, the “correct” answers are Howard Wolowitz from “The Big Bang Theory,” chicken parmesan and “Because Larry David took all the flowers.”)

At least those are some of the answers cooked up by native St. Louisan Molly Zeff and her team of quipsters at Flying Leap Games who developed Jewish Card Revoked — part of a card-game universe set in motion by Cards for All People, purveyors of the popular Black Card Revoked and Latino Card Revoked.

Zeff, who attended Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel growing up, felt the time was right for a similar Jewish card game, but would the company she co-founded, Boston-based Flying Leap Games, be allowed to produce it? Yes! Jay Bobo, founder of Cards for All People, gave his permission when Zeff contacted him.

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“I told him Jews like to make fun of themselves,” Zeff recalled. “I mentioned I’d love to be involved in a Jewish Revoked edition. He was very enthusiastic. He said you know your own culture, so follow your gut.”

And she did. Zeff, 37, worked with friends, associates and even comedians to develop the game. They devised standard categories such as food, culture, entertainment, customs and holidays, then added a few quirky ones such as awkward family time and worry. Oh, and bagels, too.

Like other Revoked games, each question card poses four possible answers. Players must debate which is the best one and vote for their choice. Majority rules, and the player or team with the most agreed-upon answers wins. However, correctness in this game is subjective. By design, players of every level of Jewish observance or knowledge can weigh in on any question.

Most questions border on the frivolous. For example, one asks what gefilte fish should be. One of the four options: Taken from a jar. Another one: Blotted from the memory of the Jewish people.

Other questions touch on more serious subjects, such as why the Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. But with one of the possible answers “We should ask Monty Python,” players quickly get the idea that the game isn’t too serious. One question asks what poses the most harm to Jews today, and one answer is “chocolate hummus.”

“We were really careful not to put in things that would trigger people,” Zeff said. “Being hyper-focused on the user experience, we wanted to make it the most fun possible. You’re playing a game, for crying out loud.”

Zeff has been game for games her whole life. During her days at Clayton High School, she clocked countless hours playing Taboo, Balderdash and Apples to Apples.

Raised in a Conservative household, Zeff found herself drawn to stricter Jewish observance during her college days. She described herself today as “a traditional, egalitarian, Jewish hippie who also attends progressive Orthodox services.” When she visits St. Louis nowadays, which she does often, she likes attending Bais Abe, Young Israel, and Kol Rinah.

After working in the nonprofit world for years, she changed course in 2017, starting Flying Leap Games with childhood friend Jonathan Cannon, who also graduated from Clayton high and attended BSKI.

“I pictured grown-ups sitting around a table writing ridiculous questions all day long for a living,” she said. “I thought that would be fun.”

Yes, but the fun begat success, quickly. That first year, Flying Leap Games created Wing It, an unexpected hit at a Game Manufacturers Association trade show that sold out its first printing in only four weeks. In 2020, the Million Dollar Doodle (“think ‘Shark Tank’ meets the game ‘Telestrations,’” one article stated) became the company’s third game.

If Jewish Card Revoked becomes a hit, Zeff said, she wants to create expansion packs with additional questions and answers, and/or perhaps a Broadway version or an Israel-centric version.

But first, Zeff added, she simply wants Jewish Card Revoked to inspire people to put down their dreidels and reach for a deck that says “A party game about Jewish culture from gefilte fish to guilt” on its box.

“I think we managed to create something that will lead to laughter without the risk of alienating anyone,” Zeff said.

You can order  Jewish Card Revoked online at flyingleapgames.com.