Monday, March 8th 2021   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo was seen as a voice of reason and calm during the early days of the pandemic, especially at a time when President Trump was offering practically no leadership at all regarding this crisis. Lately, however, Governor Cuomo is being seen in a different light as two former aides have accused him of sexual harrassment. Cuomo has denied the claims, and an independent investigation will likely take place under the auspices of the New York attorney general and the chief judge of the state court of appeals. Governor Cuomo once said “It was ugly. It was ugly. I’ll tell you the truth.” What was he referring to?

Governor Andrew Cuomo by AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin is in the public domain

AWhen Governor Cuomo was attempting to get the Orthodox community to follow state guidelines for public gatherings during the COVID pandemic, most leaders in the Orthodox community simply ignored him. However, Heshy Tischler, the Borough Park Orthodox activist and talk show host, verbally attacked Cuomo on his radio show, saying among other things that the Catholic Cuomo had “no clue what it was really like to be religious,” thus leading to Cuomo’s comment.

B. Andrew Cuomo was speaking about a trip he made to Israel in 2015. He had visited the Western Wall, and happened to be there when a group of Orthodox Jews began protesting a women’s minyan and Torah reading that was taking place in the women’s section. Cuomo was referring to the men who were yelling and throwing eggs, water bottles, and other objects across the dividing wall towards the women.

CIn 1991, Cuomo was serving as the chair of the New York City Homeless Commission in the David Dinkins administration. His comments were in response to the Crown Heights riot which occurred in August of that year. At that time Black residents in Brooklyn attacked Chassidic Jews in response to an auto accident where two Guyanese immigrant children were struck by a car whose passenger was the Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

D. Governor Cuomo was the main speaker at an event at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem in 2018. During his talk, Cuomo made the comments about Democratic consultant and Orthodox Rabbi Hank Sheinkopf, who was sitting in the front row. Cuomo was specifically referring to Sheikopf’s dancing, as Sheinkopf moved to the music that was playing in the church.

ECuomo was referring to the first time he attended a Passover seder, specifically when they served a food he had never seen before, the gefilte fish.

Click here for the answer.


Much of the country was hit by severe weather last week, including snow, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures throughout the deep South. Texas was particularly hard hit, with major power outages resulting in water shortages that are ongoing. And Senator Ted Cruz found himself in the middle of a P.R. crisis as he and his family left town for a Cancún vacation. Organized Jewish life first began in Texas in the 1850’s, though the first North American Jew known to have been in Texas was Captain Samuel Noah who commanded a Mexican force against Spain at San Antonio in 1811. The current Jewish population of Texas is over 150,000, particularly centered in the larger cities of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso. One significant event in Texas Jewish history was the Galveston Movement. What was that?

Texas-Lone Star State post card

Texas by Noé Alfaro is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AThe Galveston Movement grew out of a regional meeting of Reform Jewish congregations along the Gulf Coast, including temples in Houston, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Biloxi. The Reform movement was struggling with the question of whether to maintain rules of Kashrut following the Trefa Banquet in Cincinnati in 1883. This event was a celebration of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College and was held at a non-kosher restaurant. The Gulf Coast congregations met and decided to discontinue support of kosher rules and established the Galveston Movement to formalize this change and advocate for it among other southern Reform congregations.

B. The Galveston Movement was an effort by owners of hotels in Miami Beach in the 1950’s to capitalize on their success of bringing Jewish New Yorkers to Florida for Passover package vacations featuring seders and kosher-for-Passover food. The hoteliers hoped to attract Jews from Midwestern cities such as Chicago and St. Louis to spend their Passover vacation in the Texas beach resort town. They contracted with Galveston hotels including the famous Beach Hotel and the historic Hotel Galvez to provide rooms, and they arranged for the kashering of the hotel kitchens. While this Galveston Movement initially met with some success, the idea ultimately did not catch on as it did in Miami Beach and the last hotel to offer a Passover package ended the program in 1963.

CThe Galveston Movement was an effort in the early 20th century to divert European Jewish immigrants to an entry at the Port of Galveston rather than Ellis Island, to lessen the burden of huge immigration to cities on the Eastern Seaboard. Financially supported by philanthropist Jacob Schiff, the Galveston Movement saw more than 10,000 Jewish immigrants arrive in the United States at Galveston, from where they dispersed to other southern, midwestern and western cities.

D. The Galveston Movement was an effort to set up bungalow colonies in Galveston for poor Jewish families to escape to during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1905. Jews from Houston, Austin and even Dallas traveled to Galveston where the less crowded conditions and gulf breeze helped stem the spread of the disease. The effort, funded by wealthy German Jews who had settled in Houston beginning in the 1870’s, was geared toward providing safer housing for the recent Eastern European Jews who had emigrated to cities in Texas.

EThe Galveston Movement was a line dance which became popular at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in Galveston in the 1980’s. Similar to the Chicken Dance, the Galveston Movement was danced to the Glen Campbell hit song Galveston, with movements replicating sea winds blowing, sea waves crashing, and sea birds flying in the sun. At Galveston.

Click here for the answer.

Mardi Gras

Tomorrow, February 16, is Mardi Gras, the annual celebration in New Orleans marking the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. This year’s public celebration has been canceled, one more victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s probably just as well, given that New Orleans is facing unusual freezing temperatures with the possibility of sleet and light snow over the next 24 hours. Not surprisingly, New Orleanians are creatively celebrating through the decorating of more than a thousand Mardi Gras-themed House Floats for locals and visitors to view. Mardi Gras has a long history of exclusion of Jews from the Krewes, or parading organizations, though this has dramatically changed in recent decades. In 1996, the inclusion of Jews became even more noted, with the formation of a parading group known as the Krewe du Jieux, whose members expressly flaunted Jewish stereotypes for humor, wearing big noses, throwing decorated bagels to the crowds, and featuring characters such as the Big Macher and the Gaza Stripper. In 2006, the Krewe du Jieux split, however, over creative and philosophical differences, leading to the formation of a second Jewish-themed Krewe. What is the name of the newer Krewe?

Mardi Gras House Float

Mardi Gras decorations on St Charles Avenue, Uptown New Orleans by Infrogmation of New Orleans is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AThe Krewe of Jieux Dats.

BThe Krewe du Nieux Jieuxs.

CThe Krewe du Mishigas.

DThe Krewe of Tuches.

EThe Krewe of One Jew, Two Synagogues.

Click here for the answer.

Rabbi Abraham Twerski

Rabbi Abraham Twerski died last week in Jerusalem at the age of 90 from COVID-19. Rabbi Twerski was a a scion of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty who also went to medical school, leading to a renowned career as a psychiatrist, an addiction specialist, and a rabbinic scholar. He is credited with introducing twelve step programs against addiction into the Jewish world, which was resistant because of the Christian origins of that approach to treatment. Among Rabbi Twerski’s many Jewish accomplishments was the writing of a tune for the psalm Hoshea et Amecha which is sung in synagogues around the world.  Who was Rabbi Twerski referring to when he spoke of an “ultimate example of unrequited love?”

Rabbi Abraham Twerski.

Twerski (cropped).jpg by Latkelarry is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

A. Leah, for Jacob.

B700 wives and 300 concubines, for King Solomon.

CBathsheba, for David.

DDelilah, for Samson.

ELucy, for Schroeder.

Click here for the answer.

The Rothschilds

Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene continued to make headlines for her racist, demeaning, anti-Semitic, conspiratorial and other despicable and bizarre comments and social media posts. It was revealed that in 2018 she had posted on Facebook that the “Vice Chairman of Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” may have used “space solar generators” to cause a huge wildfire across California. The invoking of the Rothschild family in conspiracy theories is a classic anti-Semitic trope, generally referencing the great wealth and international scope of the Rothschild banking family and the supposed use of their money and power for world domination. The Rothschild family banking history began with Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812) who established his banking business in the 1760s in Frankfort. Through his five sons the business spread across Europe and eventually around the world with many separate branches active in banking and finance, philanthropy, the arts, Zionism, winemaking, and more. When Carl von Rothschild, founder of the Naples branch of the family, met with Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 to lend £400,000 (approximately $48 million in today’s currency) to the Holy See, what happened that shocked observers?

Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Mayer_Amschel_Rothschild_-_The_Jewish_Encyclopedia_1907.png  by Unknown author via Wikimedia Commons is in the public domain.

AThe meeting took place on a Sunday morning, when the Pope would normally be holding mass and greeting people in St. Peter’s Square. But the Pope delayed these events because of the importance of finalizing the loan.

B. When Carl von Rothschild met Pope Gregory XVI, he was not required to kiss the Pope’s feet, as was the rule for all others meeting the pontiff.

CPope Gregory XVI arranged for kosher food to be served, prepared by members of the local Roman Jewish community.

DCarl von Rothschild was led on a tour of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel, by Pope Gregory XVI. This was a huge breach of protocol, wherein tours were always led by lower Vatican officials and never by the Pope himself.

EWhen Rothschild and the Pope met in December 1832 to finalize the loan, the Pope showed Rothschild an oil lamp menorah that had been gifted to Pope Clement VII by the Jewish community of Rome in 1531. Rothschild, noting that their meeting was taking place on the last day of Chanukkah, immediately proceeded to light the menorah via a laser blast from outer space.

Click here for the answer.

Larry King, z”l

Larry King died last week at the age of 87, a month after being hospitalized with COVID-19. King, who was born Lawrence Zeiger to Jewish immigrants from Belarus, had a more than six decade career in television, radio, and digitial media, conducting thousands of interviews with actors, presidents, sports figures, world leaders, and so many others. Early in his career, what gaffe did King commit during an interview?

Larry King

Starmus2017_LarryKing_Trondheim Spektrum by NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

AKing’s first broadcasting job was at a radio station in Miami Beach. He did interviews with local people, discussing their daily lives. For one show, he invited on a Black man who was a member of the station’s cleaning crew. The broadcast was cut off almost immediately, as King had no idea that in Miami in 1957 it was not acceptable to interview a Black man on a white radio station.

B. In the mid-1960’s, King interviewed the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Trying to be funny, Larry King asked, “Is it true that we’re related?” Dr. King responded, “Well, sir, many of my people are related to your people. Do you really want to discuss why that is?”

CKing’s first celebrity interview was with singer Bobby Darin. King asked him about his recording of Roses Are Red (My Love), which was in fact a Bobby Vinton song.

D. In the late 1950’s King moved to Miami Beach where he got a job at WAHR radio. One of his first interview guests was the president of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. At one point in the interview King said, “I’m pretty new to Miami. Can you recommend a place to get tacos,” not realizing that tacos are not part of traditional Cuban cuisine.

EWhen King was 23 years, old, he interviewed a Catholic priest and asked him how many children he had.

Click here for the answer.

Maskless Chassidim

A few hundred Chassidic Jews crowded in front of the Satmar Meats & Takeout in Brooklyn last Friday afternoon, and eventually the police were called. Most of the Chassidim were not wearing masks and did not socially distance. Why did they all gather at that location?

Chassidic Jews

D38A077715636 by Chabad Lubavitch is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic

A. The Chassidim were protesting Governor Cuomo and his attempt to enforce stricter public health rules which many in the Chassidic community believe interfere with their religious rights.

BThey were celebrating the birth of a baby boy in an apartment above the butcher. The boy is the grandson of the Grand Rebbe of the Satmar community, Aaron Teitelbaum.

C. The Chassidim were members of the Bobover sect of Chassidim, and they were protesting the opening of a Satmar butcher shop in their neighborhood.

D.  They were lining up for COVID vaccines that were being given out on a first-come, first-served basis at the Hatzolah of Boro Park health clinic located upstairs from the butcher.

EThe Chassidim were watching a raccoon that was stuck in the window grate above the kosher butcher until the police removed it.

Click here for the answer.

Elon Musk

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, just became the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $195 billion, surpassing Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Musk responded to that news with a simple six word statement, “How strange, well, back to work.” Musk, who is often mistakenly thought to be Jewish, visited Israel in 2018, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dining in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market, and pouring himself a flaming absinthe in a Jerusalem bar. Musk also went to Masada and posted a selfie from there on Instagram, with what pithy caption?

Elon Musk

Elon Musk by Daniel Oberhaus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AI have been to the mountaintop.

BLive free or die.

C. I could easily make that cable car solar powered.

DIn God we trust.

EFreedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.

Click here for the answer.

Ted Cruz

In the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were hostile rivals, with Trump claiming falsely that Cruz’s father was connected with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Trump also attacked Cruz’s wife, and in particular, insulted her looks. In response, Ted Cruz said that Trump was a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and a “serial philanderer.” Yet Cruz went on to become a Trump supporter, and he is now leading an effort by a dozen Republican senators to have Congress overturn the democratic election of President-Elect Joe Biden based on completely false and irrational claims of voter fraud. This, despite numerous court cases on the matter, none of which have been successful. During Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign, he went with Rabbi Zev Reichman (the director of the Mechina Program at Yeshiva University) to a fundraising event. What did Cruz do that impressed Rabbi Reichman?

Senator Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

ACruz arrived late because he wanted to finish his bacon sandwich before getting into the rabbi’s car.

BCruz showed up already wearing a yarmulke.

CCruz greeted the rabbi by saying “Shalom Aleichem.”

DCruz offered the rabbi a cookie from a bag he was carrying, but first showed him the kosher certification on the package.

ECruz made his wife sit alone in the back seat of the rabbi’s car, telling her it was the women’s section.

Click here for the answer.

Naftali Bennett

The collapse of Israel’s government last week means that for the fourth time in two years, Israel will be holding elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be facing opposition from the political right, including Gideon Saar and Naftali Bennett, both of whom served as ministers in his previous governments. Bennett, a wealthy software entrepreneur, entered the political world in 2006, serving as Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff. In 2011 he co-founded the My Israel party, and in 2013 he led the Jewish Home party, which won 12 seats in the Knesset election. Bennett went on to serve as Minister of the Economy and Minister of Education, among other posts. While Naftali Bennett has advocated for gay rights in Israel, he opposes gay marriage. What did he say in a television interview about gay marriage?

Naftali Bennett

Israel Bilat by U.S. Secretary of Defense is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A“Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, just as we don’t recognize milk and meat together as kosher.”

B. “Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, as it clearly states in Leviticus, ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death–their bloodguilt is upon them.’ ”

C“Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, just as we don’t recognize masks and social distancing as kosher.”

D. “Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage. The 5th commandment states, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ This means that children shall have a mother and a father, not two mothers or two fathers.”

E“Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, just as we don’t recognize Bibi and Gantz together as kosher.”

Click here for the answer.