October 1, 2003 | Issue 5

BoroParkopoly Game Called Racist

BORO PARK, BROOKLYN — [TheKnish.com] Shnorer Avenue instead of Boardwalk? Cheapskate Chentral instead of Reading Railroad?

Jewish leaders are outraged over a new board game called "BoroParkopoly" that has "meshulachim" acting like beggars and game cards reading, "Make 6 figure salary, but receive WIC check anyway, collect $75."

Jewish clergymen say the game, the brainchild of a Pennsylvania man, should be banned, and have called for a boycott of Becketchers, Inc. unless the company stops selling BoroParkopoly in its chain of clothing stores.

Becketchers, Inc. has not publicly commented on the issue, and did not return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.

"If we are silent on this issue there is more of this type to come," Rabbi Mechel Greenblatt, president of the Shnurer Labor Union (SLU), said at a sidewalk rally Wednesday in front Becketchers, Inc.'s corporate headquarters in Flatbush.

Greenblatt displayed the game board, with properties including Linick's, Amnon's, Georgie's Wigs, 13th Avenue, New Utrecht, and squares labeled Gershon's Government Ripoff Palace, Yochie's Fake Diamonds, and Velvel's Fake-Fur-But-You-Don't-Know-That Shop.

Players draw "Save a Bundle" and "Cut Corners" cards with directions like, "Hondle with the cleaning lady, save 10 cents," and "Eat gum for a full year to save money for down payment on a house the size of a sukkah. Save $1,500,000"

The creator of BoroParkopoly, David Koenig, did not immediately answer e-mails or phone calls seeking comment about the game.

On his website, Koenig is unapologetic, and promises that more games "Hymieopoly, Chasidopoly, Shnoreropoly and Kollelopoly," are coming soon.

"It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter," Koenig maintains, adding, "If we can't laugh at ourselves ... we'll continue to live in blame and bitterness."

But the BoroParkopoly board depicts figures labeled "Mendel the Coatrack" and "Yankel Pfefferkorn" - intentionally misspelled - noted Rabbi Isaac Wertheim, cantor of the Eirav Rav synagogue.

"This is beyond making fun, to use the caricature of Mendel in this regard," Wertheim said. "There's no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it."

The Boro Park Shomrim and BT's United for a Better BP were just the latest to protest the game. In Flatbush, Rabbi Shmuel Eisenbach, menahel of Hamotzi Mechaveroh called for a boycott of Becketchers, Inc. In Manhattan, the Upper West Side and Lower East Side chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of People Good with Money urged the company to stop carrying the game.

"I was outraged. We called Becketchers, Inc., we wrote them a letter, we held a press conference, but we've had no response," Wertheim said Wednesday.


Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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