Mitzvah or Shandah: The hilarious Jewish conversation game
What's in the game
This came includes 200 cards — 100 situation cards, 50 mitzvah cards, and 50 shandah cards.
It's for players 14 and up for referencing drugs, alcohol, and romance. But, don't worry, you won't be scandalized while playing with relatives.
I suggest with 3-10 people, with the sweet spot being 4-8.
Play for 25 minutes to as long as you want!
Step 1: Set up the Game
Put the deck of “situation cards,” “mitzvah cards,” and “shandah cards” in the middle of the group of players. Give each player a piece of paper and a pen (optional).
Step 2: Start playing by choosing Situation Cards
Each player takes turns picking a situation card and reading it aloud. When it’s your turn, you’re the “Mitzvah Judge.”
Most cards have a situation on them which you'll debate (see next step), but a few are special and instruct the player to automatically take a mitzvah or shandah card.
Step 3: Debate and Decide
As a group, discuss the situation and debate whether it’s more mitzvah or more shandah. These cards are hypothetical and not black and white, so use your imagination and have fun. They're subjective. Use whatever reasoning makes sense to you.
Debate for however long you’d like. The Mitzvah Judge gets to make the final decision when ready and declares the card a mitzvah or shandah.*
The word “shandah” made sense to me, but you’re welcome to use an alternative to the word shandah like misdeed, mistake, misstep, problem, sin, or averah.
Step 4: Discuss and vote
Everyone chooses one person in the group who would most likely do what is described on the situation card. You can include the Mitzvah Judge in your voting, but not yourself. Tally votes through discussion, show of hands, or on paper.
Whoever gets the most votes takes a mitzvah card or a shandah card, depending on what the Mitzvah Judge deems that situation. If there’s a tie, the Mitzvah Judge breaks it.
Step 5: Next round
Choose an order (like clockwise) and the next person becomes mitzvah judge and picks a situation card, and the process starts again.
There are a few cards that don't require debate (pictured right).
Step 6: Count your score
When you’re done playing (this is subjective, perhaps you need to go eat, you’ve argued enough, or you have run through all the cards), each person counts their Mitzvah and Shandah cards. Mitzvah cards are 1 point, and Shandah cards are -1 point. Whoever has the most points is the winner/mensch/chosen one! As for the loser, don’t worry; in the tradition of Judaism – you can still be forgiven if you repent! Tzedakah might help . . . or buying this game for everyone you know :)
Alternate ways to play
1. Sensitive group: Two players, people who don’t know each other well, or a sensitive group: When it’s time to decide who would most likely commit each “mitzvah” or “shandah,” everyone can choose a Jewish celebrity, Jewish public figure, or someone you know. Similar to the game Apples to Apples, the judge gives the mitzvah card to their favorite answer, and the Shandah card to their least favorite answer.
2. Theatrical group: Use the situation cards as Jewish charades. Some of the situations are complex, so choose just one part.
3. Rowdy group: Turn this into a drinking game! Every time someone gets a shandah card, they need to drink.
"Danielle designed a hilarious and engaging social party game! It's well written and a lot of fun! I would recommend it to every Jew that likes to debate and laugh — which is like 98% of us!" — Matt C.
"It is an epic game and I highly recommend it. Props to Danielle!" — Jeff F.
"We love the cards!!!! Thank you :)" — Charlotte G.
This game encourages us to lean into our culture’s traditions – debating, complaining, and judging – and make them fun and conversational. Play it as an icebreaker to get to know each other, or play with family and friends. This game is inspired by the High Holidays, but you can play it all year and use the cards as a conversation starter. Danielle got the idea in July, then tested the concept with friends and writers in NYC (read more about that here). It soft launched in September 2022, just in time for Rosh Hashanah.
We hope you enjoy this game and take part in some memorable and meaningful conversations. Send feedback or ideas for new cards to hi [at] danielleindoodles.com.