Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

Think of video games. If you’re of a certain age, it’s Pac Man and Donkey Kong. If you’re younger, maybe you think of Grand Theft Auto or The Fast and the Furious. Religious Christians who have faith in the Rapture might enjoy Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Or if you’re Jewish, you might sit yourself in front of your game screen for the tale of money, mystery, and intrigue known as “The Shivah.”

Named after the Jewish tradition of seven days of mourning, “The Shivah” features not a pumped-up Vin Diesel-ish hero, but Rabbi Russell Stone, the spiritual leader of a dwindling, strapped-for-cash Lower East Side synagogue. An article in the NY Jewish Week reports that the search for the truth “leads Rabbi Stone through mob dealings in the Garment District to a humongous Upper West Side synagogue, where he confronts an evil rabbi.” (Attention Upper West Side readers: I know it’s tempting, but please refrain from trying to identify the game’s evil rabbi as having a real-life counterpart.)

In any case, it should be interesting to see how video games define “evil.” Don’t expect semi-automatic machine gun fire and car crashes, though. According to the article, “players win not with guns and explosions, but with a rabbi’s intellect and conversational tactics.”

The game’s producer, ManifestoGames, notes that the game has three different endings. Which should be familiar to Jews everywhere, who understand that there’s always more than one way to read a text (or play a game). As the old pre-gaming adage goes, “two Jews, three opinions.” (Or in this case, three endings.)

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