April 20, 2024
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April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

On Judaism and Chess Today

I was elated to see an article in the Link with chess games in it (“Tani Talks Chess … And Teaches It, Too,” June 29, 2023). I’m a big fan of how popular chess has become in my social circles and last week I saw Tenafly Chabad Academy (where my son will be going) has chess tournaments.

However, there are a few issues that need to be addressed with Jews and chess. The biggest issue in my mind is the diagonally moving piece called the bishop in English. Fou (fool/jester) in French, fil (elephant) in Arabic, and in many other languages it’s called messenger, hunter, courier, counselor, or runner, רץ (runner) in Hebrew. I really try to stop myself from saying “bishop” and choose another word, and I believe others should too considering the term comes from Christian hegemony. Along the same line of thinking, many kings in chess sets have crosses on top. I’ve cut them from plastic pieces, shaved them from wooden pieces, or avoided buying those chess sets altogether. By all means, enjoy the game, but I would advise stripping religious symbolism from chess. Even if it’s merely a gesture of good faith to השם.

Ryan Miller
Englewood

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