Gamliel Beyderman, the Russian-born, Orthodox Jewish data scientist on a wild journey to launch America’s first Jewish Escape Room finally opened the doors of his venue to the customers right before Chanukah even though their site OneBeforeEscape.com has been discussing the concept for months!
The Brooklyn location is in Midwood, a predominantly Orthodox neighbourhood, even though the venue caters to anyone (Jewish or not) interested in all things Jewish. No background in Jewish studies is necessary to complete the room. The facility welcomes school trips and features a 35-person event space that doubles as a fine art gallery focused on the themes explored in the escape room.
After witnessing his teenage son’s fascination with escape rooms to the point of building one on the basement of their home, Beyderman realized this medium can be a powerful educational tool to explain complex ideas – through play.
The escape room dramatizes the genealogical discoveries made by Dr Jeffrey Mark Paull in his quest to illuminate his family’s lost connection to noble past. Paull captured his experiences in a volume called ‘A Noble Heritage’. The stranger-than-fiction, but true plot weaves genealogy, Jewish history, loving kindness, sacrifices and miracles.
In Beyderman’s own words: I was amazed that [Paull] restored every single ancestral link connecting himself to the Shpoler Zeide, Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer, Rashi, and ultimately King David. As Jews, we are surrounded and comforted by the stories of their mighty deeds, their Torah – every day. My idea was to take the visitors of our escape room right into those stories through the escape room puzzles.
The visit continues in the Shpoler Zeide Gallery where each artwork is a story and a portal for meditation about the visitors’ experience.
A second escape room at the same location is currently under construction. It promises to take the visitor on a journey to meet the legendary 18th-century mystic, Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer. The room is an attempt to recreate a trip through the 20 generations of the Shapiro Rabbinic dynasty to find the greatest treasure of the Jewish people. The themes range from saving the manuscripts of Rabbi Pinchas from the flames of the Holocaust to the Jewish mystical numerology (gematria), to the heart-warming story of Rashi, the greatest Bible commentator of all time.
OneBefore Escape is a part of the global escape room phenomenon, as well as an immersive museum of how technology allows us to trace our roots to the most illustrious leaders of the Jewish people. It is in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, near the numerous kosher restaurants, shops and steps from the subway.