Let There Be Laughter



July 25, 2019

Madeline Dolgin is a community builder — one who engages Jewish young adults through low-pressure programming.

The 25-year-old has dedicated her summer to creating strategic partnerships and building a social media audience for The Chosen One, a humorous Jewish card game.

The concept is simple: One player reads aloud a question card each round, and the other players respond with an answer card. Of course, none of the question and answer cards match perfectly — that’s what makes the game comical.

Despite the light-hearted nature of The Chosen One, it has a deeper purpose, Dolgin said. The game naturally sparks conversations about Jewish practices and identity without the pressure of a formal, educational programming.

“It’s not just a Jewish game; it’s a way to facilitate Jewish experiences in a meaningful, educational way,” she said. “Hillel really prepared me to do that.”

As an undergraduate student at New York University, Dolgin became involved with the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life. She discovered a hidden passion for Jewish education by participating in the 10-week Jewish Learning Fellowship, serving as a Hillel engagement intern and fostering collaboration amongst interfaith communities.

Dolgin, once a self-described “High Holiday Jew,” became a Hillel regular in a matter of weeks. During her four years as a student leader at the Bronfman Center, she honed many of the skills she would need to succeed as a Jewish professional — innovative thinking, effective communication, cooperative spirit.

After graduation, Dolgin continued to facilitate Jewish community as a Hillel International Springboard Fellow at Arizona State University Hillel. She learned design-thinking methodology, teaching her to reimagine the possibilities of Jewish life on campus and embrace challenges with an entrepreneurial mindset.

She used her training to create Jewish programs with a relaxed atmosphere. These “low-key” programs attracted Hillel regulars and students who otherwise wouldn’t consider walking through the doors of ASU Hillel.

Dolgin spearheaded J-NET, a mentorship program that connects undergraduates with a Jewish community member in their career field. Dolgin was able to advance professional growth for 25 students, whose passions ranged from sports journalism to speech pathology.

Another one of her popular initiatives, playfully called the Shmear Society, provided students with fresh bagels and an opportunity to schmooze with their peers each week.

“My Springboard Fellowship taught me how to simplify, adapt and merge Jewish values that are relevant to our secular lives and our Jewish lives,” Dolgin said. “Our programs helped students engage with their Judaism in an accessible way.”

Although she’s no longer on campus, Dolgin said her experience as a Hillel student and professional have translated to her role at The Chosen One. She draws upon her design-thinking skills to cultivate Jewish community for young adults, many of whom are looking to recreate their Hillel experience.

“Using a card game to foster community can only be done with design thinking,” Dolgin said. “You have to first focus on your target audience and how to engage them. From my time at Hillel, I’ve learned what this Jewish generation finds meaningful and what they’re hungry for.”

Last month, Dolgin opened her apartment to 20 Jewish young adults for Shabbat. Some were already close friends and others were new residents in Arizona. They laughed over answer cards such as “a plate of hummus for breakfast” and helped one another understand the meaning of cards like “a five-hour Passover seder.”

The game was a hit.

Dolgin is hoping The Chosen One will gain traction on colleges and universities with the launch of its campus ambassadorship program, where students will use marketing skills to promote the game within their Jewish community.

She said, “Laughter brings us together.”

For more information on The Chosen One, visit www.thechosenonegame.com and follow @thechosenonegame on Instagram. Students interested in the campus ambassadorship program should email Madeline Dolgin at [email protected].