Thursday, December 31, 2015

Game of Kiruv: Monseyopoly

With adorable cover art by Chani Judowitz, Monseyopoly looks like a very exciting and colorful game. Created for JEP (Jewish Education Program) of Rockland, the Monseyopoly board game is meant to bring the familiarity of Monsey to the table. According to

In keeping with its pursuit of uniting Jews of all backgrounds, JEP Rockland presents a game that sparks renewed interest and pride in our local community. MONSEYOPOLY is now available, ready to provide friends and family with hours of kosher entertainment. More importantly, your purchase of this fun-filled game will also go a long way to support the inspiring and informative outreach efforts of a true Monsey mainstay – JEP ROCKLAND.1
Monseyopoly was created to enhance JEP's kiruv/outreach efforts to non-orthodox Jews. Indoctrinate the kids while they're still young and willing to sit around and play board games. It's not a bad strategy, after all, games are often used to supplement education in the classroom (Scrabble Slam and Scrabble, Jr.) and promote positive values (Chutes and Ladders.) The benefit is double for JEP because while the game promotes their values as part of the indoctrination process, the funds generated by sales go to help this kiruv organization. reports
This innovative project is the result of the outreach efforts of one of Rockland County’s premier, longstanding kiruv organizations: JEP Rockland. JEP Rockland was founded back in 1979 by Rabbi Yehuda Schwab, zt”l, and for nearly 35 years he oversaw every aspect of JEP’s growth and development, personally and positively influencing the lives of thousands along the way.
JEP is thriving with a full gamut of ongoing classes and programs to fulfill its mission to reach, teach, and inspire unaffiliated Jewish children and adults by introducing them to the value of Torah and Mitzvos.2

What gave me pause was actually something about copyright infringement. As a writer working on several projects, I often have to look up exact laws on what is and what isn't copyright infringement. An internet search recently brought me to the Memory Book Company, a company that produces school yearbooks. On their site, they make a point about getting permission to use names, titles, artwork, etc. without permission. They write:
Games such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, etc., are subject to copyright and trademark protection and cannot be reproduced without permission.
One school decided to use a Monopoly theme in their yearbook. Unfortunately, they failed to get permission from Parker Brothers before they sent the yearbook to the printers. As soon as Parker Brothers became aware of the situation, they flew in a lawyer to supervise the destruction of every copy of the yearbook.3
While I'm opposed to kiruv, I have to admit that I'm curious as to the legality of this game. I sent off an email to Hasbro, the parent company of the original Monopoly board game, giving them a link the Monseyopoly article but have not received a response as of the publishing of this post.

1. Horowitz, Baruch. "Lets Play Monsey!... Monseyopoly--A Familiar Game with Even More Familiar Landmarks"[sic] December 6, 2015.
2. Ibid.