For over a decade, Justin worked in Jewish formal and informal education, primarily in day schools and synagogues across North America. While coordinating shabbat morning programs for the community youth, he realized that children didn’t have a way to access the sanctuary environment while they sat with their parents, and these same parents would bring books, toys and snacks to entertain the child during these moments. Realizing that children need a way to play to learn, Justin developed MagneticShul as a play scene of the synagogue to give children that entry point into the experience of Jewish rituals.
The idea for MagneticShul was born back in 2012 when Justin and family traveled to Israel for the summer to participate in the PresenTense Global Institute. Here, Justin continued developing the foundation for MagneticShul with market research and guest play opportunities. The 100 pilot versions were printed on Justin’s home printers where he painstakingly cut out every magnet by hand. Family and friends who came to visit even got into the mix and lent a hand. During the pilot phase, we discovered Jason Peltz of Peltz Productions who joined the team to illustrate the playful images you now encounter. With custom artwork done, Justin secured seed funding to produce the initial 5,000 units. In December 2014 the tins arrived from China and magnets from Israel to Chicago where the task of assembly was upon us. Justin would spend hours preparing units, and packaging them for shipping, in addition to creating the web presence, traveling to conferences and OF COURSE being around for family. (MagneticShul tends to take over a ‘small’ corner of the house.)
In February 2016, MagneticShul assembly was outsourced as a learning opportunity for the individuals of Keshet. MagneticShul became a job for them, as they completed a REAL WORLD task of assembling each unit, which consists of over 12 individual steps. Within 2 months all the units were packed, and we discovered that in the first 1.5 year of having product, we’ve sold over 1,000 units across the world.
As we continue to share and sell MagneticShul, Justin is busy developing expansion sets for MagneticShul to create richer experience for each holiday. Soon you’ll be able to purchase backgrounds and magnets for Shabbat@Home, Passover, Sukkot, and more.
We’re not stopping with magnetic games, as of April 2016, Justin is piloting a card game designed for older children, ages 5-12 to play where they need to acquire sets of Jewish objects or people.
Needless to say, Justin is busy, but having a great time creating games for children and empowering them to play with the adults in their lives and have meaningful conversations as they play.
When Justin was a boy, he was charged with setting the seder table. One year, his Grandma Frances z”l advised him to set a bowl of walnuts on the table. Upon asking why, she explained that it’s there to keep the children entertained at the table. The idea stuck with him for years and now, EgozMedia is a living tribute to her. Frances survived the Holocaust and wanted to create meaningful, positive Jewish experience for her entire family and now Justin does it for his and everyone through his creations.