Let's Turn Jewish Practice Into Something Competitive

Getting Creative To Find Ways Get People Back to Religion

Jew-Man: Would more people practice Judaism if they could play it like a game?
Kurt Hoffman
Jew-Man: Would more people practice Judaism if they could play it like a game?

By Noam Neusner

Published February 20, 2013, issue of February 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

People would do things to earn rewards, and then compete with each other. Here’s a simple example: If congregations logged their daily minyan attendance and published the data daily, I imagine minyan attendance would go up nationwide. If Daf Yomi, the act of reading a page of Talmud a day, were to be combined with a daily quiz on content and people could compare their quiz scores with those of their study partners, they’d surely focus more each day.

The scolds out there will say that Judaism doesn’t need to be a game or competition and that it offers its own eternal rewards anyway. That’s true, but that doesn’t mean Judaism couldn’t benefit from some gamesmanship.

We know that games work to change behavior and improve insight. For example, people are more likely to lose weight when they are part of a public weight-loss competition than when they do it on their own. Ordinary amateur athletes log their workouts on a website called Strava. Despite the fact that literally nothing is at stake, these people compete as if something were. Lance Armstrong was kicked off the site after he admitted his doping.

And what about Foursquare? I know a handful of people who attach great significance to being the “mayor” of locations important to them. Regular Facebook users value their friend count. Twitter users measure their re-Tweets and new followers. Does it matter? Sure it does. Because people care about it.

The goal is not so much to win as to measure and improve. People attach value to their Facebook friend count because it’s a proxy for their social standing. They value what they can compare, and they compare what they can measure.

What we need is something like Nike’s FuelBand, which measures steps taken, calories burned and so on, but for the Jewish soul. Let’s call it the JewBelt. It could even look like tefillin.

Maybe the JewBelt could measure how often we devote ourselves to moral thought, text study and proper observance of dietary laws. Logging in the data would reveal a chart of Jewish devotion — trackable, shareable and easily graphable.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.