What I Didn’t Get For Christmas
Expulsion The Board Game
Though it was only five dollars I somehow avoided buying “Expulsion” at the local thrift store for myself or as a gift. As the cover for Expulsion proclaims the game recreates Jewish Life in Spain from the Golden Age to 1492. It promised to be “an exciting and challenging game to play for the whole family.”
Then comes the big plus which was hard to resist. No previous background necessary to play. So you don’t need to be a Jew, an Islamic extremist, KKK member or Nazi to learn and enjoy Expulsion.
While wondering about the game, I couldn’t help thinking of the Mel Brooks film The History of the World Part 1, where Brooks does an over the top Busby Berkeley style homage to the Spanish Inquisition.
Is the object of Expulsion to get the Jews out of Spain?
According to Gabriella Geselowitz in a 2017 article in Tablet, Expulsion was:
Originally released in the late 1970s, and created by Cherie Koller-Fox, Expulsion’s gameplay (and plot) is fairly straightforward: Players (up to 6) circulate the board, Monopoly-style, traveling, through the roll of a dice, through Spain, from the Golden Age in 950 to 1492, when they were expelled. Each player is assigned a real-life historical figure, such as Luis de Torres, or Judah Halevi, and as they go around the board they acquire or lose tokens that represent Jewish values (Torah, emunah/faithfulness, etc.). The goal is to acquire as many tokens as possible—but be prepared to go through a forced conversion or martyrdom several times (you’ll need a new character card for each death) on your way towards witnessing the decline of Jewish life in Spain. What fun!
For anyone with ties to Europe you have seen virulent antisemitism on the rise. There are dozens of board games you can play with your family during these days of monotony. You don’t need to play Expulsion. Just realize there are many people who would like nothing more than to relive it.