When the pandemic started, Micah Hart took the concept of “Jewish geography” and turned it into the viral sensation “Who Knows One?” a Zoom-based game show that aired weekly on Facebook Live that, as the tagline says is “not about who you know, but about who who you know knows.”
But with the pandemic done and the need for virtual events being shunned for a return to in-real-life events, Hart evolved the show to work with a live audience, which he is bringing to Bet Shalom on May 7 for the synagogue’s spring fundraiser.
“I started conceiving of a live show and I’ve been traveling with it for 18 months,” said Hart from suburban Boston, where he started the current seven-city tour. “It builds on the same themes of how we’re connected and how our lives intersect in different ways. The theme is we’re all part of a community no matter where we’re from or how we practice. The show is built to re-emphasize that.”
The virtual show featured two competitors and a “chosen one,” about whom hints were given during the course of the game. Competitors reached out to people in their networks that might know people who know people who are connected to the chosen one. Whichever competitor got the chosen one on the Zoom first was the winner.
Bet Shalom’s Rabbi David Locketz said that his family were regular watchers of the show during its pandemic heyday.
“Both our kids were in high school and we were all looking for things to do together,” he said. “We often knew not necessarily the ‘chosen ones,’ but people on the screen. In the beginning, I got called a lot.”
The in-person version, Hart said, is a much more interactive experience that takes some pieces of the show combined with storytelling and Jewish geography pieces.
“I find the stories fascinating and meaningful to hear,” Hart said. “It’s a fun and great way to get get to know more about your community.”
Hart now lives in Valencia, Spain with his family. He had lived in Atlanta previously, working in digital and content marketing for the Atlanta Hawks and Buffalo Wild Wings. He said he knew he was on to something for the show’s ability to bring people together and reconnect them.
“We all have people in our lives that we care about but don’t always have time for,” said Hart, who is growing Who Knows One? outside of the Jewish community by doing corporate team and culture-building events. “This is a chance to reopen communications, and doing it In-person builds on that in a community.”
Locketz said that Bet Shalom’s spring fundraisers are ways to raise money, of course, but there’s also a strong goal to celebrate community. Locketz came back after his sabbatical last spring with the intention of increasing the connections within the Bet Shalom community.
“There are so many people whose friend networks don’t know each other, but would be great to know who’s connected and how so we can have supportive relationships,” he said.
Locketz said the synagogue’s event committee at first bristled at the idea of the event because of the term “Jewish geography.”
“It feels exclusive when there are so many in our community that are not Jewish,” he said. “We started calling it ‘Bet Shalom connections.’ You don’t have to be Jewish to play Jewish geography. I will hesitate before I use that in the future.”