Jewish Trivia Quiz

from RASHI, RAMBAM and RAMALAMADINGDONG: A Quizbook of Jewish Trivia Facts & Fun by New Orleans native Mark Zimmerman

Israeli Baseball

Israel’s ranking in the World Baseball Confederation currently stands at #41, just behind Poland and just ahead of Peru. And yet Israel has had great success in the initial rounds of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, going undefeated in their first round matches against the Netherlands, South Korea and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), followed by a second round upset over Cuba. Next up, a rematch today against the Netherlands, followed by Japan on Wednesday. Israel’s team, which features t-shirts reading “Jew Crew,” also has a team mascot that has gotten a lot of attention. Who is the Israeli team mascot?

Baseball with a Star of David

AThe Yid Kid.

BMegilla Gorilla.

CRav Bais-baal Bat Mitzvah.

DMr. Matzah Ball.

EMensch on a Bench.

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Republican Jewish Coalition

The Republican Jewish Coalition held their annual convention last week at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. Among the speakers was Elliot Lauer, RJC board member and lawyer for Jonathan Pollard. In a d’var Torah which he offered to the attendees, to what did Lauer compare Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election?

Republican Jewish Coalition meeting

Fred delivers his remarks by freddthompson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AHe compared it to the victory of the Maccabees against King Antiochus and the Syrians, as celebrated in the Chanukkah story.

BHe compared it to the triumph of the Jews against King Ahashverus and the Persians as celebrated in the Purim story.

CHe compared it to the victory of the shepherd David who slew the giant Goliath, as told in the Book of Samuel.

DHe compared it to the victory of the Israelis against the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan during the Six Day War of 1967.

EHe compared it to the Best of the Beverages contest at the 2017 Americas Food and Beverage Show which had been held at the Venetian Resort Hotel the week before, in which Orange Julius was the unexpected victor.

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Sweden & The Jews

Sweden is in the news, with President Trump’s false claim of a terrorist attack there recently. With a Jewish population of fewer than 20,000, there aren’t a lot of “Jewish/Swedish” stories. But which of the following is true?

Sweden map and flag.

AYiddish is one of the official languages of Sweden.

B. Benny Andersen first started performing in a Swedish pop-rock group, the Hep Stars in 1946. The band was successful in Sweden, mostly performing cover songs. Over time, Benny was interested in writing and performing original music, and he eventually teamed up with three other musicians that he had met, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus, to form a new band. They were writing and practicing, but had not yet decided upon a name for the band. One day Benny was in a coffee house in Stockholm when he overheard a young child at a table nearby, calling out to his father, who happened to be a tourist from Israel. “Abba, abba,” the child said. Benny liked the sound of the word “abba” and asked the gentleman what it meant. Told that it was Hebrew for “father,” Benny decided that it was fate that he should choose that name for his band, as he had only learned that morning that his wife was pregnant.

CThe first Jew to be offered Swedish citizenship was Aron Isak, in 1774. King Gustav, who granted him this privilege, then allowed Isak to bring in additional Jewish families to ensure there would be 10 men for a minyan.

D. One of the world’s most famous children’s books came out of Sweden, where author Astrid Lindgren, born in Vimmerby, wrote the Pippi Longstocking series. Lindgren, who was Jewish, purposefully did not make her most famous character a Jew, as she wanted Pippi to be seen as representing little girls world-wide. The one Jewish reference in the Pippi Longstocking books was Pippi’s father, the seafarer Ephraim Longstocking, named after Astrid’s father Ephraim, who emigrated to Sweden from Russia following the Kishinev pogrom in his hometown in 1903.

ETuvia Peretz was a peddler in Lithuania who used to blow a shofar as he pulled his cart through the streets of Vilnius, summoning the residents to come and buy his wares. He survived World War II and emigrated to Sweden, where he continued to sell small goods from a cart, eventually becoming successful enough to rent a storefront to sell home goods and furniture. As an homage to his roots in Lithuania, he named his store Tkea Furniture. However, he was told by a local customer that Tkea was very similar to the Swedish word for rubbish, so Peretz, not looking to spend money for a new sign above his front door, simply added a horizontal line at the bottom of the Letter T, making the new name Ikea, which has since grown to nearly 400 stores around the world.

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was an African-American abolitionist and social reformer who was born into slavery in 1818. What Jewish connection did he have in his life?

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass by moosevlt is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ADouglass was born on a plantation on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The plantation, which was owned by a Sephardic Jew named Moses Lindo, primarily grew tobacco.

BAfter Douglass escaped slavery, he moved to New York City where he became active in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, whose membership included Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Douglass eventually became a licensed preacher, leading to the development of his oratorical skills. As he became known for his leadership in the abolitionist movement, he spoke primarily at African-American churches; however, in 1851, Douglass was invited to speak at Congregation Ansche Chesed on the Lower East Side of New York, the first time he had addressed a white audience on the subject of ending slavery.

CIn 1838, Douglass escaped slavery by boarding a train which took him to Havre de Grace in northeast Maryland. From there he made his way into Pennsylvania, where he made contact with abolitionists who were part of the Underground Railroad network. As he awaited assistance to travel to New York City, Douglass was temporarily housed by a Jewish couple, Anshel Bondi and his wife Henrietta, who were among the many white Jews and Christians who supported the movement of escaped slaves to safety in the North.

DDespite being married and the father of five children, Douglass carried on a 22-year affair with Ottilie Assing, a journalist from Germany whose mother was Lutheran but whose father was Jewish.

E. Following up on his recent statement that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” President Trump recently announced that he will be inviting Douglass to come to the Passover seder at the home of his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Said Trump, “I was just talking to this Black reporter the other day, and I said to her, ‘I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Is Frederick Douglass a friend of yours? Set up a meeting. Invite him to my seder.’ Because Passover is a holiday about freedom, and we can all understand that freedom is big league good. My administration will have the most free Jews and Black people of any administration in the history of our country. We can do that because we got 306 Electoral College votes. That’s more than any Black or Jewish president got. Really. Just ask Bibi. I told him about that just last week. My Jewish daughter and son-in-law were sitting right there in the front row.”

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Chuck Schumer

What did Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York do recently that has stirred up controversy within the Jewish community?

Chuck Schumer

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) by Center for American Progress Action Fund is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

ASenator Schumer announced his support for Keith Ellison, who is a candidate to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. Some Jews consider Ellison to be anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, based on his past connection to the Nation of Islam and some of his comments regarding the Israel/Palestinian issue.

B. Senator Schumer has been very critical of Donald Trump’s comments about banning Muslims, and his administration’s recent travel ban that is on hold through a court order. Recently Senator Schumer announced that if a Muslim registry is established, it is his intention to register as a Muslim (as have others in the Jewish community, including Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt). Schumer has been criticized for these comments by some in the Jewish community, including ZOA president Mort Klein and leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

C. Speaking about the Trump administration appointments of former Goldman Sachs bankers (including Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin) and his concern that Trump’s policies are designed to enrich his wealthy supporters (including Jews such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, investor Carl Icahn, and investment banker Boris Epshteyn), Schumer said “Donald Trump meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, his special interest friends and his donors.” Many in the Jewish community felt that Schumer’s comments were reminiscent of the canard of an international Jewish banking conspiracy.

DSenator Schumer has often been at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular when the Prime Minister went around normal diplomatic channels to address the United States Congress in 2015, a speech which Schumer boycotted. Schumer again criticized Netanyahu recently when the Prime Minister announced the building of the first new settlement on the West Bank in about 20 years. Schumer received much criticism for his comments from supporters of Israel, and in particular from AIPAC.

E. Senator Schumer’s meatloaf recipe was recently featured in a New York Times article. The meatloaf, which Schumer calls the Omnibus Loaf, includes not only beef, veal and chicken, but also pork. 

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Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots

The New England Patriots won a record fifth Super Bowl after overcoming a 25 point deficit, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. Robert Kraft, the Jewish owner of the Patriots, is a major philanthropic supporter of Jewish causes and Israel, including the building of the Kraft Family Stadium, Israel’s only American football stadium. The Kraft family has also brought many football players to Israel, including Tom Brady and Hall of Famers Andre Tippett, Jim Taylor, Jack Youngblood, and Raymond Berry. In 2005, what did Robert Kraft bring to Israel to show Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which got major scrutiny by Israeli security before being allowed in?

Tom Brady

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots by Linda Seid Frembes is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

AA deflated pigskin, which was allowed in only after approval by the Chief Rabbi.

BThe three Super Bowl rings that Kraft won in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX (2002, 2004, and 2005).

CThe Vince Lombardi Trophy which the New England Patriots won in Superbowl XXXIX on Febuary 6, 2005.

D. A New England Patriots helmet that he had specially made for the Prime Minister, which featured a 6-pointed Star of David in place of the 5-pointed star that is part of the team’s logo.

E. Fashion model and Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bündchen.

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Mary Tyler Moore, RIP

Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away last week, had a number of connections to the Jewish world, both in her real life (her husband Robert Levine is Jewish) and her performing life (an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show entitled “Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda” grappled with the issue of anti-Semtism when Mary made a new friend who turned out to dislike Jews). Which of the following is another example of Mary’s Jewish connections?

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore (test picture) by Dave Winer  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AAs a young child, Mary was one of only two Catholic families living in the overwhelmingly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Ocean Parkway in Flatbush. On the day of her first Communion, as she walked outside wearing her bridelike veil from the ceremony, she was teased by someone who said, “Well, so are you married to God now?” To which she replied, “No, stupid. How come you can’t touch money sometimes? And what’s the big deal about sundown?”

B. Mary, who was just starting out in her career, originally auditioned for the minor part of Buddy Sorrell’s wife “Pickles” on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The producer, Carl Reiner, liked her but decided that her little button nose would not make her believable as this Jewish housewife. However, after failing to find an actress to play Rob’s wife Laura, Reiner remembered Moore and brought her back in for what became her breakthrough role as Laura Petrie.

C. Mary Tyler Moore was involved in a number of charities, including serving as the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and being a co-founder, along with Bernadette Peters, of Broadway Barks, which sponsors an annual adopt-a-pet event in New York’s theater district. She also joined the Board of Overseers of Hadassah Hospital, a fundraising and advisory group, after becoming connected to the hospital through her mother-in-law, Marion Levine, who was president of her Haddasah chapter on Long Island.

D. One of the most popular secondary characters on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was Chuckles the Clown. The episode entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust” featured the passing of Chuckles when he marched in a circus parade as Peter Peanut. As Ted Baxter described it, a rogue elephant tried to “shell” him, causing his death. Moore’s portrayal of Mary Richards during Chuckles’s funeral is considered one of her best performances. Originally the writers intended to reveal Chuckles as Jewish at his funeral, led by a rabbi. However, the Anti-Defamation League objected to the script and the portrayal of the rabbi reciting the lines “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” As a result, the script was rewritten to feature a pastor of unidentified religious affiliation.

E. One of Mary Tyler Moore’s first appearances on a sitcom was on The Goldbergs, starring Gertrude Berg as Molly Goldberg, the matriarch of a Jewish family who moved to suburban Connecticut from the Bronx. Mary auditioned for the role of Anna, Molly’s granddaughter. At the audition, Mary wore a Jewish star around her neck, and she told the director about her own Bubbie Esther, who she said was just like Molly Goldberg. Mary got the role, and the director later told her that she could invite her Bubbie to a taping. She admitted to the director that she wasn’t actually Jewish and that she had made up the story to help her get the part. Said the director, “You know what, you’ve got chutzpah!” As Mary demurely smiled, the director yelled, “I HATE chutzpah!”

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Jews and the Inauguration

There was controversy at the inauguration of Donald Trump over the decision of Rabbi Marvin Hier to offer an invocation. Some felt that Rabbi Hier, the Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance, should not participate, given Trump’s many remarks degrading minorities, Muslims, immigrants, women, and others (not to mention his support from, and refusal to disavow, alt-right, KKK, and other racist groups and individuals). The first Jew to participate in a presidential inauguration (at the 1789 inauguration of George Washington) was Gershom Mendes Seixas, spiritual leader of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel, the first congregation established in the United States. Seixas, a self-trained hazzan (cantor), shochet (kosher slaughterer) and mohel (ritual circumciser), but not an ordained rabbi, is nonetheless known as the Patriot Rabbi of the Revolution. Which of the following is also true of Gershom Seixas?

Congregation Shearith Israel

Congregation Shearith Israel by Eden, Janine and Jim  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ASeixas came from a distinguished family that included his brother Moses, founder of the Bank of Rhode Island and president of Touro Synagogue in Newport; his brother Abraham, a Captain in the South Carolina militia during the Revolution; his brother Benjamin, who was a founder of the New York stock exchange; and a descendent, Benjamin Cardozo, who served as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

BBecause he was a self-taught spiritual leader, Seixas had difficulty with Hebrew. The leaders of his congregation, Shearith Israel, fined him 5 shillings for each error he committed while chanting the Torah at Shabbat services, with a goal of spurring him to improve his language skills.

CAs the first prominent clergy to lead a synagogue in the United States, Seixas set the tone for rabbinical leadership in this country in many ways, including through his adoption of the black pulpit robe and clerical collar that was commonplace within the Christian ministry, but later became the norm for American rabbis.

D. Shortly after he became the “minister” of Shearith Israel in New York City, Seixas was asked to perform a wedding in Lancaster for the Gratz family, a prominent Jewish family in Pennsylvania. Seixas’s father Isaac, concerned that his young son might not be up to this task, sent along a letter to the bride’s father, reading, “Permit me Sir to recommend my son to your particular notice. He has never been so far from home, and if you find anything amiss in his behavior, impute it favourably to his want of experience, and kindly admonish him for it.”

E. His connection to George Washington began when Washington’s daughter, Ivanka Washington, married Gershom Seixas and converted to Judaism. Seixas not only participated in the inauguration of his father-in-law, but he joined the Washington administration as a senior adviser, in particular focusing on helping the Jews of Palestine who were suffering under the rule of the Ottoman empire. Regarding that issue, Washington said, “Ya know what, Gershom is such a good kid and he’ll make a deal with Palestine and the Ottomans that no one else can — ya know he’s a natural deal-maker — everyone likes him.”

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it will be going out of business this year, with a final performance on Long Island on May 21. For many years the circus held special performances for the Orthodox community of New York during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. At these performances, the circus made a number of accommodations to the Orthodox audience, including serving kosher food and even providing brand-new chometz-free cotton candy machines during Passover. What other accommodation was made by the circus?

Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus

16797148480_c6c36a036e_o by Dustin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AAlex and Irina’s trained poodles performed their act in long skirts instead of their usual ballet tutus.

BHans & Mariya Kloses Mixed Animal Act includes a variety of animals that jump rope, dance, play piano and leap through hoops. For these performances, the dogs, llamas, goats and kangaroos went on, but the pigs were left out of the show.

CCrazy Wilson Dominguez, who normally crosses himself before walking on the whirling Pendulum of Pandemonium, was asked to perform this religious ritual in private instead of in front of the audience.

DFemale performers, including Intergalactic Queen Tatiana, members of the Double-Wide Flying Trapeze team, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Acrobatic Troupe, who usually wear tight fitting uniforms or leotards instead wore long sleeved tops and ankle length skirts.

EGemma Kirby, who performs as the Human Cannonball and is blasted out of a cannon and into a net 100 feet away, was introduced to the Orthodox audience as the Human Matzahball.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it will be going out of business this year, with a final performance on Long Island on May 21. For many years the circus held special performances for the Orthodox community of New York during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. At these performances, the circus made a number of accommodations to the Orthodox audience, including serving kosher food and even providing brand-new chometz-free cotton candy machines during Passover. What other accommodation was made by the circus?

Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus

16797148480_c6c36a036e_o by Dustin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AAlex and Irina’s trained poodles performed their act in long skirts instead of their usual ballet tutus.

BHans & Mariya Kloses Mixed Animal Act includes a variety of animals that jump rope, dance, play piano and leap through hoops. For these performances, the dogs, llamas, goats and kangaroos went on, but the pigs were left out of the show.

CCrazy Wilson Dominguez, who normally crosses himself before walking on the whirling Pendulum of Pandemonium, was asked to perform this religious ritual in private instead of in front of the audience.

DFemale performers, including Intergalactic Queen Tatiana, members of the Double-Wide Flying Trapeze team, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Acrobatic Troupe, who usually wear tight fitting uniforms or leotards instead wore long sleeved tops and ankle length skirts.

EGemma Kirby, who performs as the Human Cannonball and is blasted out of a cannon and into a net 100 feet away, was introduced to the Orthodox audience as the Human Matzahball.

Click here for the answer.