Monday, June 14th 2021   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

F. Lee Bailey, RIP

Attorney F. Lee Bailey died last week. Bailey gained fame for defending a wide range of controversial figures, including The Boston Strangler, Patty Hearst, and O. J. Simpson. He brought a very theatrical presence into the courtroom, and advocated strongly for his clients with a focus on the concept of reasonable doubt. What did Bailey say that offended many in the Jewish community?

F. Lee Bailey

F. Lee Bailey famed Lawyer by John Mathew Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. In a 2019 podcast interview, Bailey blamed Hollywood Jews for promoting an anti-O. J. Simpson narrative, stating, “And in Hollywood, if you do a portrayal that’s favorable to O.J. Simpson we won’t fund it. So some of the people who claim that most of their lives they’ve been subjected to horrible kinds of prejudice, and indeed extermination during World War II, are now behaving in exactly the same totalitarian spirit by unfettered free press.”

B. In a 2011 interview about Patty Hearst, Bailey referenced her grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper publisher. Said Bailey, “I still think it’s a miscarriage of justice that Patty Hearst was convicted. But I’m glad her grandfather wasn’t around when this happened. Patty was kidnapped by a gang of revolutionaries that hated America. William Randolph Hearst popularized the phrase ‘America First’ in his newspapers. He loved this country, not like those thugs.” Many Jews took offense at this statement, as the America First movement of the middle 20th century opposed aid to those countries who were fighting against the Nazis.

C. Bailey’s first notable case was that of Dr. Sam Sheppard. Late one night in 1954, Sheppard’s wife was bludgeoned to death in their home. While Dr. Sheppard claimed to have been awakened by noise and knocked unconscious by the perpetrator, he was charged with the crime and convicted in a case that received extensive and inflammatory coverage in the media, including an editorial in the Cleveland Press prior to Sheppard’s arrest which was titled, “Why Isn’t Sam Sheppard in Jail?” Bailey (not Sheppard’s original attorney) eventually took over as his lawyer, appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction based on the inability of Sheppard to get a fair trial given the biased media coverage. In a 1972 Wall Street Journal interview, Bailey said, “The elites who control the media long got away with wielding their power indiscriminately and to their own advantage. I’m glad that the Supreme Court stood up to them and freed Dr. Sheppard, a good Christian man who suffered such a great tragedy.” Bailey was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for his reference to “media elites,” a common anti-Semitic trope.

D. In March 1968, American soldiers fighting in Viet Nam participated in what became known as the My Lai massacre, the mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese citizens. Bailey represented Captain Ernest Lou Medina who was the commanding officer of the unit responsible for the murders. Bailey argued in Medina’s 1971 court martial trial that the massacre was the independent action of the soldiers, not a command from Captain Medina, and the officer was acquitted of all charges. In a 1981 interview in Time Magazine, Bailey stated, “My Lai was a terrible event, but let’s keep it in perspective. It’s not like the Holocaust. A few hundred people were killed.” He was criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which issued a statement saying “While the Holocaust was a unique evil in history, no one should reference the Holocaust to diminish other crimes against humanity.”

EBailey was one of many defense attorneys for O. J. Simpson, along with Alan Dershowitz, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, and others. Bailey was reported to have complained about the body odor noticeable in the room when the lawyers met to discuss strategy. When asked who he thought was the problem, Bailey replied, “If you smell the shvitz, it’s Dershowitz.”

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Yair Lapid

Yair Lapid, leader of Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid party, was tasked by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin with forming a government after the failure of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do so. It is now expected that Lapid will form a coalition not only with center and left-leaning parties, but also with Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party. And apparently, Bennett will become prime minister, with a plan in place for Lapid to become prime minister at some later date. Benjamin Netanyahu has already criticized this coalition, which would result in his removal from office, saying among other things that “This government supports the dangerous nuclear deal,” based on his belief that Lapid will not stand up to Iran, and that Bennett has compromised his rightist views for his personal benefit. In fact, Yair Lapid strongly opposed the Iran nuclear deal when it was first announced in November 2013. How did then Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid describe the proposed nuclear deal with Iran at that time?

Secretary Blinken visit May 2021–Blinkin greets Yair Lapid by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A. “We had a choice here between Pharoah and Haman.”

BWe had a choice here between bacon and ham.”

CWe had a choice here between Chmielnicki and Hitler.

DWe had a choice here between the plague and cholera.”

EWe had a choice here between Iraq and a hard place.”

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Marjorie Taylor Greene

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is in the news again for controversial comments, specifically the following statement regarding the House of Representatives rule that members must still wear masks in the House chambers. “You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.” She has been criticized by people across the political spectrum, including Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) who tweeted, “It’s a grotesque idiocy mixed with a neurotic lack of self awareness,” and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) who wrote, “Marjorie Taylor Greene: A troubled person who is unfit to serve in Congress.” Greene was previously criticized for claiming that space lasers controlled by the Rothschild family were responsible for the California wildfires. She denied the charge that her claim was anti-Semitic, with what explanation?

Marjorie Taylor Greene

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), 117th Congress is licensed under United States Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A. “I don’t even have a clue who the Rothschilds are or what my comments meant. I was just quoting from the Daily Stormer website. They obviously specialize in storms so clearly they would know about things shooting down from the sky.”

B. “I never used the word Jew or Jewish, so how could my comments possibly be anti-Semitic?”

C. “I didn’t even know and didn’t find out until recently that the Rothschilds were Jewish.”

D. “I’m not blaming the Rothschilds because they are Jewish. I’m blaming them because they are Democrats.”

E. “You can’t say I’m anti-Semitic for blaming the Rothschilds, who I didn’t know were Jewish. I am pretty sure, however, that space lasers are Jewish because I saw Fiddler on the Roof, and there’s no doubt that Laser Wolfe was a Jew.”

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Gal Gadot

Israeli actress Gal Gadot tweeted about the current military crisis between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, “My heart breaks. My country is at war. I worry for my family, my friends. I worry for my people. This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation, Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families, I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end, I pray for our leaders to find the solution so we could live side by side in peace. I pray for better days.” In response, Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized her for her comments. What did he say?

Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. “She chose to write a neutral post as if she was from Switzerland.”

B. “I wonder what kind of woman she is, to not stand up for her country.”

C. “She is everything that a real super hero is not.”

D. “Gal Gadot has aligned herself with the anti-Israel Hollywood elite. There can be no side by side in peace when the other side wants to destroy us.”

E. “I accused Yitzhak Rabin of having ‘murdered Holocaust survivors on the Altalena.’ I was put on leave from my job at the Israel Law Center because I mocked President Reuven Rivlin for advocating on behalf of Israeli-Arab rights. I support right-wing reactionary leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Brazil’s  Jair Bolsonaro. And I was suspended from Facebook for anti-Muslim comments such as ‘Do you know where there are no terror attacks? In Iceland and Japan. Coincidentally there’s also no Muslim population there.’ I’m 29, unemployed, and I live with my daddy at the official prime minister’s residence. So why wouldn’t I criticize Gal Gadot for caring about humanity?”

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Parliamentary elections were held last week in Scotland, with a major issue being the possible move toward independence from Great Britain. The drive for independence has grown much stronger since Great Britain decided to leave the European Union. Pro-independence parties gained a majority of seats in the election, and the largest party, the Scottish National Party, has stated that they will hold a national referendum on the issue. Jews have been in Scotland since at least the 17th century, and the Jewish population grew to more than 20,000 after World War II. However, at this time it is estimated that there are only about 6000 Jews remaining, centered primarily in the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee. Rabbi Mendel Jacobs of the Lubavitch of Scotland is known for what action that related to traditional Scottish culture?


Edinburgh Piper by David Blaikie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A. Rabbi Jacobs ruled that Jewish men are not allowed to wear tartan kilts, the traditional Scottish clothing. He based his ruling on Deuteronomy Chapter 22 Verse 5, “A woman must not put on man’s apparel, nor shall a man wear woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord your God.”

BRabbi Jacobs ruled that Jewish men are only allowed to wear tartan kilts, the traditional Scottish clothing, if it has his rabbinical certification. He based his ruling on the shaatnez prohibition, wherein Jews are not allowed to wear clothing that combines wool with linen. Jews can bring their kilts to the Rabbi for inspection. If he determines that the item only contains wool, he stamps the clothing with a kashrut certification symbol similar to the kosher O-U symbol. However, in this case the symbol is a letter L in a circle (for linen), with a red diagonal line through the L. Jews entering Rabbi Jacobs’ shul wearing a kilt must show the O-L stamp to the synagogue gabbai for approval before being allowed in.

CThe Jacobite is a steam engine train, part of the Scottish West Highland Railway Line, that travels through the Scottish Highlands and is very popular with tourists. The train was used in many of the Harry Potter movies and presented as the Hogwarts Express. Rabbi Jacobs has declared that Jews are not allowed to ride the train, as the association with the name Hogwarts renders the train unkosher. He said this is based on the principal of marit ayin which states that things that are technically kosher but appear to violate the law are therefore deemed unkosher.

DRabbi Jacobs created a kosher tartan, the traditional Scottish cloth consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands, representing clans in Scotland. His tartan design includes blue and white for the Israeli and Scottish flags, gold for the golden items in the Biblical tabernacle, silver representing the silver decorations on a Torah scroll, and red symbolizing kiddush wine. The tartan design can be purchased in the form of a kilt, necktie, mouse pad, yarmulke, and a tallit.

ERabbi Jacobs moved to Scotland in 2017, and soon after he noticed that the name of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, appeared on signs as Rabbie Burns (which is the traditional Scottish spelling). Misinterpreting that the famed poet was actually a rabbi, Rabbi Jacobs held a celebration for the local Jewish community on Burns Day, the poet’s birthday, where he served a dinner of kosher haggis, the traditional  dish of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, cooked inside the sheep’s stomach. Said Rabbi Jacobs, “If we can eat kishka, why not eat haggis like Rabbi Burns?”

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James Carville

Democratic political operative James Carville, chief architect of Bill Clinton’s presidential election, gave an interview recently to the online news site Vox on the election of Joe Biden, and the current state of the Democratic Party. He praised President Biden (“It’s very difficult to find something to complain about.”). And he offered advice and criticism to the Democratic Party for their overall poor results (other than winning the presidency) in the last election (“We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing.”). What “Jewish-referenced” comment did Carville offer?

James Carville

James Carville by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. Speaking of the division between Republicans and Democrats over the last few administrations, Carville said, “Not every problem is intractable, like the Israeli/Palestinian issue, chas v’chalila. Most issues really do have points of compromise. We just need politicians who are willing to compromise.”

B. Said Carville, who was an advisor to Ehud Barak in the 1999 Israeli elections, “Do I think anything is possible in politics? Hey. I'm the guy who helped Ehud Barak defeat Bibi Netanyahu for prime minister in 1999. I haven’t seen anybody else doing that lately, even with that guy under indictment. Guess you could say I’m a goy with a yiddishe kop!”

CReferencing the way that politicians communicate, using too much “jargon-y language,” Carville said that political speech needs to be more accessible. He went on to say, “I always tell people that we’ve got to stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Yiddish. We have to speak the way regular people speak, the way voters speak.”

D. Regarding his general philosophy about political work, Carville said, “Coming from Louisiana, I always say that we have to view American politics like red beans and rice. You have to take your time to get where you’re going. Put the beans in a pot, put it on the stove on low, and give it most of the day. Don’t rush it. If you’re patient, you’ll end up with a simple but delicious feast. I told this story once when signing books in New York and this lady said to me, ‘That’s just what my Bubby always said to me. Be patient. But she talked about her cholent sitting on the stove overnight’.”

ECarville married Mary Matalin in 1993. She was a Republican political consultant and operative, having worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney. Said Carville, “People ask me all the time how I could marry Mary? I have no idea (well, really, I have no idea why she would marry me). But knowing that we made our marriage work is what gave me the chutzpah to push President Clinton to get Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat to shake hands at Camp David.”

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Abbie Hoffman

Among the nominations for Best Picture at the 2021 Academy Awards was The Trial of the Chicago Seven, and that movie featured Sacha Baron Cohen, nominee for Best Supporting Actor (neither won). Cohen played Abbie Hoffman, Viet Nam war protestor, co-founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies), and one of the defendants in the trial of the Chicago Seven, charged with intent to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Hoffman said that Judaism informed his world view in regard to the importance of rebellion, as he wrote in his autobiography Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture. “Intellectual arrogance and moral indignation grow out of the ghetto history. For 5,000 years, Jews always had the opportunity to rebel against authority, because for 5,000 years there was always someone trying to break their backs.” What was Abbie Hoffman’s “Jewish” interaction with pediatrician Dr. Spock, a fellow anti-war protestor?

Abbie Hoffman and Jane Fonda

1970, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA - Jane Fonda - Jane Fonda by Tommy Japan 79 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

ADr. Spock was president of the synagogue where Abbie Hoffman was bar mitzvah, and presented him with a gift from the congregation.

BAbbie Hoffman cooked gefilte fish from scratch for Dr. Spock when Spock invited him for dinner while they were both hiding from authorities in the Virgin Islands.

CDr. Spock performed Abbie Hoffman’s circumcision.

DOne of the protest activities at the 1968 Democratic Convention was a Friday night Shabbat service and protest led by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Following the service, Hoffman and Dr. Spock danced the hora arm in arm.

EAbbie Hoffman, who is a Kohen, met Dr. Spock for the first time when they both spoke at an anti-war rally in New York’s Central Park in 1967. Rather than extending his hand in greeting, Hoffman held up both hands with fingers spread in the traditional pose of the Kohanim, the Jewish priests, much to Dr. Spock’s bewilderment. It turns out that Hoffman confused Dr. Spock with Mr. Spock, who co-opted the Kohen sign as the Vulcan salute on Star Trek.

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Israel celebrated her 73rd birthday with the Yom Ha’atzmaut holiday last week. Among the many ways in which the occasion was noted was the singing of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, by Wanda Howard Battle as part of the Israeli embassy’s virtual celebration.  Battle is a vocalist at Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. She had recently led Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan on a tour of the church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the pastor, and where he had helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. Hatikvah was not officially adopted as the Israel national anthem until 2004, though it had been the de facto anthem since statehood was declared in 1948. Hatikvah, under the name Tikvatenu (Our Hope), was originally a poem written in 1878 by Naftali Herz Imber, a Jewish poet from Ukraine. In 1887, Shmuel Cohen of Rishon LeZion sang the poem using a Moldavian folk-song melody. That melody, which is the tune that Hatikvah continues to be sung to, actually has roots to the 16th century in Italy, from a song called La Mantovana (Mantua Dance) by Giuseppe Cenci. The Hatikvah melody has been heard more recently when a singer sampled the tune in one of his songs. Which rap or hip hop musician sampled the music of Hatikvah in a rap song?

Israeli flag with Hatikvah lyrics

HaTikvah Flag by Avital Pinnick  is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

ATupac Shakur.



DThe Notorious B.I.G.

EThe Notorious Bet Ayin Gimel.

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Prince Philip, RIP

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth, died last week at the age of 99. He was born into the Greek and Danish royal families, and in 1939 he joined the British Royal Navy. After the war, British King George VI gave him permission to marry his daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth. She ascended to the throne upon George’s death in 1952, and Philip was made a British Prince in 1957. Which of the following is true about Prince Philip and his family?

Prince Philip

HRH Prince Philip by Joe Lane is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. Prince Philip’s sister Sophie was married to a Nazi who was director of the Third Reich’s Ministry of Air Forces and held the rank of Oberführer in the SS.

B. Prince Philip’s mother Alice is honored as a Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Israel for sheltering a Jewish family in her house in Greece during World War II.

CPrince Philip’s son Prince Charles owns a velvet yarmulke with his official royal crest on it.

D. Prince Philip’s sister Margarita married a German aristrocrat who became a Nazi officer who was later implicated in the “Operation Valkyrie” plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944.

EPrince Philip’s son Prince Charles was circumcised by Rabbi Jacob Snowman, the renowned mohel of the Jewish community of London.

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The medical use of marijuana is legal in 36 states, and recreational use is legal in 15 states, with New York joining that list last month. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel, and recreational use is mostly decriminalized, with little enforcement. A draft law is being considered to legalize recreational use, though smoking in public places will not be allowed. Most religious authorities agree that marijuana is kosher, as it is a plant which would not even need certification unless it was processed or included in an edible product. In 2020, archaeologists and scientists studied residue found in an altar at Tel Arad in Israel from the period 760 BCE to 715 BCE and determined that it was the remnants of burning cannabis plants used in a ritual ceremony. What term related to marijuana is believed to have Jewish roots?

Marijuana plant

Marijuana Plants by Anthony Quintano is licensed under CC BY 2.0

ALinguists believe that the source of the word marijuana is the name מר חנה, Mar Chana, meaning the Sea of Chana, a small body of water in northern Israel in the area that the cannabis plant was grown in Biblical times.

BIt is believed that the word cannabis derives from the Hebrew words, קנה בשם, Kaneh Bosem, which was one of the ingredients of anointing oils mentioned in Exodus.

CThere are many theories behind the use of the number 420 in reference to marijuana. Many think that the number refers to California penal code Section 420 about marijuana, and others contend that Bob Dylan's song Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35 is the source (“Everybody must get stoned,” not to mention that 12x35=420). But the most likely source is Hebrew gematria, where the numerical value of words is analyzed. The Hebrew word עשן, Ashan (ayin, shin, nun) means smoke, which has a value of 420 in gematria.

DThe word ganja, typically used by Rastafarians to refer to marijuana, comes from the Hebrew words גן יה, Gan Ya, meaning Garden of God. Rastafarians believe that the Tree of Life referred to in the Biblical story of Eden is in fact the marijuana plant.

EOne day Shirley Sobchak came home to find her son, Wally, smoking marijuana. She was shocked, and said to him, “Walter! What are you? A putz? Smoking?” Wally, being high, misheard her and said, “Yeah, I’m pot smoking. But don’t worry. I don’t roll on Shabbos.” And thus was born the phrase Pot Smoking for using marijuana.

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