[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1446585320″]F[/dropcap]or Stewart Karlinsky (’70), reviving the Yiddish language is serious business—but it’s also a game.
“I grew up in a world where my grandparents would talk to each other—and usually say something bad—in Yiddish,” recalls Karlinsky. “And I, of course, wanted to know what they were saying. But today, I find that most of my Jewish friends know only a few words of Yiddish, and I don’t want it to become a dying language. Forgetting its rich heritage, its humor, would be a great loss.”
Karlinsky hopes to remedy that problem with Kibitz: The Yiddish Word Game, a family-friendly card game that helps players learn the Yiddish language. The game includes a set of more than 200 two-sided cards: side one has a Yiddish word with transliteration in English and Hebrew lettering and five potential definitions; side two has the correct answer, some alternative cultural meanings, and a phrase or sentence using the Yiddish word in context.
It’s a fun game to play—and, Karlinsky notes, it was also fun to design.
“I got four friends together to work on this project, and it was a lot of fun,” Karlinsky says. “We used Leo Rosten’s Joys of Yiddish as our primary source, and spent time working through several iterations of the game. We eliminated bugs and made sure the Hebrew was correct, consulting with a Hebrew teacher throughout the process.” The greatest challenge, Karlinsky explains, was finding a printer that would work in Hebrew, transliteration, and English at a reasonable price. Eventually it all came together for Karlinsky, and he’s now proud to sell Kibitz on his website.
“I’ve always liked games that keep your mind sharp, like Jotto, Names and Faces, Mastermind, and, more recently, sudoku,” he says. “And Kibitz is fun for the whole family. It’s a great way for grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren to learn together and extend their culture that has existed for hundreds of years.”
Karlinsky might be new to entrepreneurism, but he honed his business savvy at Baruch. He excelled in high school and ultimately chose to attend Baruch over Wharton Business School, a decision he looks back on as being one of his best.
“I believe I received an equivalent education,” he says, “and came out with no student loans.”
He fondly recalls classes with professors Aaron Levenstein and Sam Dyckman (’41), in addition to his time spent as a member of Student Council, during which he pioneered fireside chats with popular professors. His Baruch education served him well, leading him to pass the CPA exam, eventually earn a master’s and PhD, and enjoy a long career as a professor and consultant for the Big Four accounting firms.
“I will always be beholden to Baruch for giving me a first-rate education at a very reasonable cost,” he notes. “I sponsor multiple graduate tax scholarships to give a little back.”
What didn’t Baruch teach this grateful alumnus? For starters, Karlinsky jokes, Baruch never taught him how to navigate online marketing in the year 2016. “If a Baruch entrepreneur, current or recent student, wants to take Kibitz online and help market it,” he explains, “my company would certainly be interested.”