February 23, 2021 Candy Land and Monopoly, Hasidic versions
For years I enjoyed doing this on my tours:
I show people a picture of a Hasidic game, and I have them guess which game it is a derivative of. For instance, I will show them a Hasidic Monopoly, which is titled in Yiddish “Deal Honestly,” and I will have them guess what the game is. I’ll then show them how the Hasidic adaptation is different from the original. For instance, in the Hasidic Monopoly, you go to hell as the worst spot and heaven as the free spot, and all the train stops are now yeshivas.
This is to say, these kosher games are not only censored and translated to Yiddish, but are fundamentally changed to incorporate the values that are seen as most foundational to Hasidic life. Oftentimes the things I tried to illustrate were about the values of interpersonal relationships, restraint, orienting yourself toward others. But recently my examples have been slowly going out of print, replaced by newer, more capitalistic variations.
Here is the standard American version:
Here is the one from my childhood, the game “Deal Honestly” which includes punishment cards like:
Spoke modern Hebrew, Zionist!
For three stops you can’t move / Go to purgatory / Pay a $500 penalty to the bank
A kind blogger put together a lot more details on this out of print game, and you can read it here.
This game has been out of print for years, presumably because it is too fanatical for the newer generation. The Monopoly I see on sale everywhere now is “Deal Shpiel,” and the blurb is:
Make a good deal and enjoy the lively game!
This is a good illustration of how the community has been changing with generations. It feels at once more modern, more American, and is certainly interpreted by most as a positive move toward a less Holocaust-traumatized harshness and toward a more worldly, acclimated generation. But it strikes me as very male-centric because of its extreme focus on economics, making money, being a somebody. In Hasidic culture, this is the realm for men. It is also very consumerist, and it’s been disheartening to see how extremely slavishly the newer generation is embracing materialism.
Or Candy Land
I don’t have any pictures of the Hasidic Candy Land game of my childhood, but I think the newer adaptation is very similar. I always wanted to look closer at the board to see what the exact values are, but I couldn’t find the game. Now, at last, I saw it and a compulsive purchase promptly happened.
The game is called “Good Deed Land,” and I would say it remains true to the earlier values of my childhood, that is, the focus on the interpersonal relationship. The childhood indoctrination into the focus toward others has its charms and its pitfalls. Too much focus on others, and you are just fodder for the most abusive and opportunistic. But of course, there is also a spirit of generosity that I find very endearing.
Let’s look at the pictures up close:
1. Giving to others (sharing)
2. Helping a fellow Jew
3. Helping for Shabbes/Shabbat
5. Helping one’s parents
6. Treating your friend like you want to be treated
And so on…
Of course, what the game doesn’t include and is as striking for its absence, is women and girls. There are no girls whatsoever in any of the illustrations, even though this is a family game enjoyed by boys and girls. What happens when girls casually play games in which they know they are not supposed to feature? What kind of psychic impressions does the absence of all women make on young girls? I am sure that pretty much all the girls do not consciously think it’s an issue; they take this as the natural, default state of affairs. But I wonder: How do little girls internalize the ideas that not only are they to be kind, considerate, helpful, and agreeable, but also invisible?
I imagine it must make a deep impression.