The fun and quirkiness of your favorite farming and city-building games meets the richness and vibrancy of Jewish ritual, history, and thought.

Run a profitable homestead, observe festivals, learn Torah, and experience life and community in ancient Yavneh, the birthplace of modern Judaism. Kerem B’Yavneh (meaning literally “A Vineyard in Yavneh”) is a custom, collaboratively designed game between the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at Michigan State University and the Frankel Jewish Academy. The goal of the collaboration is to create a game that motivates students to be more engaged in the Academy’s rabbinic curriculum and further make use of the Academy’s one-to-one education technology initiative.

Kerem B’Yavneh is a casual, social, religious education, homestead-simulation, world-building game. There’s even some cooking involved! Our story unfolds in ancient Yavneh, a small agricultural community that was transformed into the center of Jewish life and learning after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Second Temple by the Roman Empire in 70 CE (the subject of our first game, Sparks of Eternity). You, a budding scholar-farmer, are leading this transformation. In Kerem B’Yavneh, players must adhere to traditional Rabbinic law, culture, and practice while raising a family, growing crops of increasing diversity and goodness, trading in the marketplace, and helping Yavneh flourish.

Never before have there been Jewish games both so cutting-edge and so well-adapted to use in an educational setting. Kerem B’Yavneh (KeBY) makes history come alive, brings context to Rabbinic literature, and provides a deeply interactive vehicle for critical thinking, discussion, and classroom debate. The game, which can be played by each student concurrently as a classroom community, provides in-game rewards for out-of-game work in school. Instead of using a pay-to-play model, KeBY promotes study-to-play, collaboration, and friendly competition amongst players. It enables the teacher to create customized content within the game to enhance and reinforce classroom learning and motivate players to truly engage in the material.

Scholarly Merit

Peer Reviewed Exhibitions:

  • Winn, B., O’Donnell, C., Margrett, R., Kozma, G., Durand-Hollis, X., et. al. Kerem B’Yavneh. Exhibited at the International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play, October 2016, East Lansing, MI.

Peer Reviewed Conference Presentations:

  • O’Donnell, C. and Winn, B. (2016, October). Learn to Play: Leveraging the Freemium Model in the Religious Educational Game Kerem B’Yavneh (The Vineyards of Yavneh). International Conference on Meaningful Play, East Lansing, MI.
Brian Winn: Executive Producer

Rabbi Reuven Margrett: Executive Producer

Casey O’Donnell: Producer

Greg Kozma: Lead Designer

Xavier Durand-Hollis: Lead Programmer

Kevin Pauly: Programmer

Andrew MacAfee: Programmer

Peter Burroughs: Artist


Sarah Zelenak: Artist

Jackson Hopcroft: Artist

Andrew Bagdady: Artist

Tyler Summers: Audio Designer

Elan Gleiber: Audio Designer

Ryan Chuang: Additional Artist

Paul Stanos: Additional Programmer

Release Date: May 2016