The Shivah Video Game is Back

“Russell Stone is a rabbi at a poor synagogue in New York City. He is a devout man with a problem. Membership is way down and he lacks the funds to keep his synagogue open. Things are looking very bleak, and he has grown progressively more cynical and bitter with the passage of time. Just as he is on the verge of packing it all in, he receives some interesting news. A former member of his congregation has died and left the rabbi a significant amount of money. A blessing? Or the start of something far more sinister? Can Rabbi Stone just accept the money and move on? His conscience says no. Step into his shoes as he travels all over Manhattan in his attempt to uncover the truth.”

That might sound like a synopsis you’d read on the inside book jacket of a Jewish-themed mystery novel. But it’s not. It is actually the premise for a video game called “The Shivah: Kosher Edition.” The award-winning game has been around since 2006, but at the end of November, the Brooklyn-based company that created it launched a new version for the Apple App Store.

The revised version, which is completely remastered, has updated graphics and newly composed music and a choice of three different endings. The app sells for $1.99 and is considered a third-person point-and-click adventure game. Players try to solve mysteries in many games, but The Shivah is the only one that focuses on a rabbi and Jewish themes.

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The player assumes the role of Rabbi Russell Stone, a hard-hearted man who is struggling with his faith. He is visited by the police and informed that a former member of his dilapidated New York synagogue, Jack Lauder, has been murdered. Stone and Lauder had an acrimonious falling out and Stone drove Lauder from his flock, and as such is puzzled to learn that Lauder has bequeathed him a large sum of money. The police are suspicious as to Stone’s possible role in Lauder’s death, and Stone himself is curious, and as such he sets out to investigate the murder himself and clear his name. Stone begins by paying a shivah visit to the widow of the murdered man, then tracks down a dangerous criminal named Joe Demarco who he suspects may be the killer. His investigation takes him to a large, wealthy synagogue, where he discovers that the corrupt rabbi who runs it, Zelig, is in league with organised crime.

Back in 2006, when the original version of The Shivah was released, FaithGames, a blog that reviews video games with a faith-based theme, stated that it is “Not only an excellent indie adventure game, but also one of the best examples of portraying faith through a game that I’ve ever seen.”

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I’m sure I’m not the only parent who will do a double take when I hear my kids grabbing for their iPhone or iPod Touch and yelling, “C’mon, let’s go play some more Shivah!”

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Jewish Techs: The Jewish Technology Blog

This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.