Tuesday, September 22nd 2020   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

Ray Frank

While women will serve as Rabbis and Cantors in synagogues across the country next week on Yom Kippur, it was 130 years ago, on the evening of Yom Kippur in 1890, that a Jewish woman became the first female in America to give a sermon from the pulpit. The woman, Ray Frank, was the great granddaughter of Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon, the renowned Gaon of Vilna. She actually organized the service that night in Spokane, Washington, as that community did not have a synagogue. She preached such a compelling message to the thousand attendees (Jews and non-Jews) about the importance of the Jewish community coming together and creating a congregation that a non-Jewish audience member stood up and offered the donation of a site for the Jewish community to build a synagogue. Ray Frank went on to speak and to preach across America, including at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and at High Holiday services at an Orthodox synagogue in British Columbia. What nickname did Ray Frank acquire?

Ray Frank

ARebbitzin Ray.

BThe Spokane Spokes-Jewess.

CThe Girl Rabbi of the Golden West.

DMadame Rabbi Ray.

EThe excommunicated Ray Frank.

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One of the traditions on the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, when Jews symbolically cast away their sins by tossing breadcrumbs into a body of water (though the ceremony can take place at any time during the High Holidays until Hoshana Rabah, the 7th day of Sukkot). The ceremony arose from a verse from the prophet Micah (7:19), which states, “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Last year, Hillel at Stanford University partnered with another student organization to celebrate Tashlich in a non-traditional way. What did they do?

Tashlich in Tel Aviv-1920

Tashlich in Tel Aviv 1920 by Shimon Korbman is in the public domain.

AHillel partnered with the Student Space Initiative to celebrate the tradition with Tashlich in Space. Jewish students wrote their sins on slips of paper which were placed, along with breadcrumbs, inside a rocket which the Student Space Initiative built and launched skyward. The program was promoted with the slogan “Reflect. Renew. Blastoff.”

BHillel partnered with the Stanford Muslim Student Association to celebrate the Tashlich tradition with Pita for Peace. Jewish and Muslim students met together and baked pita bread, while teaching each other about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Raʿs as-Sanah al-Hijrīyah, the Islamic New Year. Then all of the students collected the crumbs from the baking project and tossed them into nearby San Francisco Bay.

CHillel partnered with the Mock Trial Club to celebrate the tradition with Mock-Atone. Jewish students described the sins which they wished to symbolically cast away, and members of the Mock Trial Club voted on whether to accept their contrition or not. The students whose sins were absolved then pushed the non-forgiven students into the university swimming pool as prayers were recited.

DHillel partnered with the Stanford chapter of Swipe Out Hunger, an organization that provides meals from student meal cards to homeless and hungry people in the local community. The program, Cast Out Your Sins–Hand Out Your Bread, enabled Jewish students to give away loaves of bread to those in need, rather than simply throwing away breadcrumbs. The program was promoted with the slogan “Feed Your Soul, Feed Your Neighbor.”

EHillel partnered with the Stanford Cannabis Alliance to celebrate Tashlich/Hashlich. The students spent the evening smoking pot and munching on Cheetos, Oreos, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Then they all picked up the munchy crumbs from their laps and tossed them around the room before falling asleep on the couch.

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Israeli Drone

A drone suddenly appeared over Rabin Square in Tel Aviv last week and dropped hundreds of small packets on the unsuspecting crowd of pedestrians below. What did the drone drop?

Rabin Square

Tel Aviv_Rabin sq_ 2 by Dana Friedlander for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. A group called Green Grains dropped packets containing small organic round challahs. On their website they announced the stunt, saying “It’s time my dear friends. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Green Grains handing out socially distanced manna from heaven.” 

B. A group called Green Love dropped packets containing condoms. On their website they announced the stunt, saying “It’s time my dear sisters and brothers. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Green Love, handing out free love from the sky.” 

C. A group called No More Green Line dropped packets containing small Israeli and Palestinian Flags. On their website they announced the stunt, saying “It's time my dear Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s No More Green Line telling all of you below that it’s time for the separation wall to come down.”

D. A group called Greenpeace dropped packets containing etrog seeds. On their website they announced the stunt, saying “It’s time my dear Israeli friends. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Greenpeace, handing out etrog seeds, so that next year you don’t have to buy your etrog from industrial farmers who are destroying the land.” 

EA group called Green Drone dropped packets containing marijuana. On their website they announced the stunt, saying “It’s time my dear brothers. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Green Drone, handing out free cannabis from the sky.”

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Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest serving prime minister, announced his retirement as a result of deteriorating health. Japan recognized Israel in 1952, but for many years they did not have strong relations, as Japan was a major trading partner of the Arab League, which supplied oil to Japan. Over time, however, Japan and Israel have strengthened their ties, particularly since 2014 when the two countries increased their security, economic, and political cooperation following a visit to Japan by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2018, Prime Minister Abe and his wife visited Israel, and while the trip was considered to be successful, there was one diplomatic gaffe by the Israelis. What happened that upset Abe and his wife and the Japanese staff and diplomats?

Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by Hudson Institute is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A. A dinner was held at the residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu in honor of the Japanese prime minister. At the beginning of the dessert, Prime Minister Abe raised his glass and offered the traditional Japanese toast, “Kanpai.” Prime Minister Netanyahu misunderstood his guest, however, thinking he said pecan pie, and he replied, “No, I'm sorry, we are serving apple pie.”

BA dinner was held at the residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu in honor of the Japanese prime minister. For dessert, the Israelis served chocolate pralines, that were placed on the table inside shiny leather shoes. However, the idea of a shoe on a table is highly offensive in Japanese culture, where shoes are not even worn inside homes, causing much distress among the Japanese dinner guests.

C. As part of a trade agreement signed between the two countries, Israel agreed to increase imports of cars from Japan. However, in the official document, the Israelis wrote “Nisan” (which is the spelling of the first month in the Jewish calendar) instead of “Nissan,” (which is the spelling of Japan’s second largest automobile manufacturer). Unfortuntately, however, the Israelis did not catch this spelling error in the document, and did not know that “Nisan” is a Japanese slang word for a sexual act.

D. A dinner was held at the residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu in honor of the Japanese prime minister. Placecards on the table noted the spot for each person to sit. The Japanese prime minister’s seat was designated by a card reading “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” when in fact, it should have read “Prime Minister Abe Shinzo,” as in Japanese culture the correct form is to state the persons surname first followed by his or her first name.

EA dinner was held at the residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu in honor of the Japanese prime minister. Among the guests was Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who addressed the Japanese prime minister incorrectly, saying his name as if it were spelled Abby (the proper pronunciation is A-Báy, accented on the second syllable). When he was corrected, Carlson said, “So I’m disrespecting him by mispronouncing him intentionally? So it begins. You’re not allowed to criticize Abby, or Abie, or Abu Dhabi, or whatever?”

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Steve Mnuchin

The United States Postal Service is an independent agency whose head, the Postmaster General, is appointed by the agency’s Board of Governors. The Board of Governors consists of both Democrats and Republicans who are appointed by the President. This system was devised in 1970 to ensure that the Post Office would be able to function independently of partisan political influence. However, last February Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met only with the Republican members of the Board in a meeting not covered by sunshine laws because of a lack of a quorum, thus yielding no public record of the meeting. This meeting, and other subsequent meetings and actions by Mnuchin, led to the hiring of Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General. DeJoy is now facing criticism for efforts to curtail USPS operations in a way which could greatly impact the processing of mail-in ballots in the November presidential election. Steve Mnuchin’s great-grandfather, Aaron Mnuchin, was a diamond merchant who emigrated to the United States in 1916. What is the root of Steve Mnuchin’s name?

Steven Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin - Caricature by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AThe name is a variation of Mincha, which is the evening prayer which Jews recite daily.

B. The name is a variation of the Hebrew words may-Noach, meaning “descending from Noah.”

CThe name is a variation of Menachem, which derives from the Hebrew word for comforter.

DThe name comes from the name Munich, as Mnuchin’s family roots are in that German city.

EThe name is a variation of Munchkin, as Mnuchin’s family roots are in that land over the rainbow.

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Kamala Harris

Joe Biden announced last week that Senator Kamala Harris of California would be his running mate. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, is married to attorney Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish. His two children from a previous marriage call Kamala “Momele.” Harris has a long history of support for Israel, favoring a two-state solution and opposing BDS. She has also spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate crimes, saying at an AIPAC meeting, “As someone who’s personally prosecuted hate crime, I also believe that we cannot stand by while anti-Semitism, hate crime and bigotry are on the rise, whether that’s a swastika on a Jewish Family and Children’s Services bus in San Francisco or the burning of a mosque in Tampa. No one should have to be afraid to put a menorah in their front window or on their front lawn.” What Jewish activity did Kamala Harris participate in when she was growing up?

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A. Harris attended Westmount High School in Westmount, Quebec, where she played the role of Hodel in the school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.

B. Kamala’s best friend was a member of Young Judaea. Kamala used to go door to door with her friend selling World’s Finest chocolate bars as a fundraiser for the organization.

CWhen Kamala was 12, she moved to Montreal, where her mother took a job as a researcher at Jewish General Hospital. Every year Kamala would attend the Chanukkah party sponsored by the hospital, and she would help distribute presents to the Jewish children who were being treated at the facility.

DHarris used to collect donations in the JNF Blue Boxes for planting trees in Israel.

EHarris ran for president of her senior class, and during her campaign she targeted Jewish students. She spoke of her support for a two-state solution at a local B’nai B’rith Youth Organization meeting. She appeared at a bagel store and posed eating lox on an onion bagel. She went to the Jewish Community Center’s Purim carnival where she kissed a bunch of Jewish babies. She gave a speech to the student body where she used ten Yiddish words including chutzpah, kvell, meshuggeneh, and tushie. She appeared at the county fair where she was seen eating a fried knish on a stick. And she sold campaign T-shirts that read “Vote Kamala, Bubele.”

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United States Postal Service

Many states are looking to expand their mail-in ballot options for the presidential election, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that makes many hesitant to enter a polling place, but also because of a desire to increase voter participation in elections. President Trump opposes many of these initiatives, falsely claiming that mail-in voting is particularly susceptible to voter fraud. And there is fear that Louis DeJoy, the new Postmaster General, is taking actions that will negatively affect the Postal Services’s ability to handle a huge number of mail-in ballots. What were the circumstances that once led the Postal Service to reject the mailing of an item by a Jewish person?

United States Postal Service truck

USPS by Paul Sableman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A. In 1962, comedian Lenny Bruce, who had already been arrested numerous times on obscenity charges, brought a package to the post office to be mailed. The package was seized by the postmaster who said that Bruce was being investigated on federal obscenity charges. The postmaster opened the package, which in fact contained a copy of Bruce’s record album, The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce. Bruce was arrested on the spot because the album included what were considered obscene riffs on sex as well as religion, including the use of many obscene words (of which “shmuck” was one).

B. In 1927, a Jewish lawyer named Aaron Sapiro filed a libel lawsuit against Henry Ford over the anti-Semitic content of Ford’s newspaper, The Dearborn Independent. Additionally, Sapiro published his own pamphlet countering Ford’s message, but when he mailed the pamphlet, the post office in Dearborn rejected the piece, claiming that it libeled Mr. Ford. Given Ford’s powerful position in Dearborn, this was not surprising, and Sapiro had no choice but to delete some of the wording, even though other post offices had no problem with the mailing. In particular, Sapiro altered a headline on the front of the pamphlet which orginally read, “Henry Ford, Great Entrepreneur, Greater Anti-Semite.”

CIn 1917, the Post Office would not mail a book by Dr. Ben-Zion Liber entitled Sexual Life: A Popular Science Book. The book, written in Yiddish, covered a variety of health topics, including healthy eating, family planning, and birth control. The postmaster declared the book non-mailable because it was obscene, until the author deleted an article titled “The Incomplete Intercourse” and edited some other pages.

DIn 1984, the Orthodox Yiddish newspaper, Der Yid, printed a front page editorial railing against Jews who celebrated Christmas, or who had expanded their Chanukkah celebration into a major competing holiday. The article was printed in Yiddish. But the editorial also appeared on the front page of the newspaper’s English language supplement, under the headline, “Let The Goyim Keep Their Santa Claus, Their Trees and Their Lights-and Also, Their Jesus.” The postmaster refused to allow the English supplement to be mailed, saying that it was hostile to Christians and violated their religious freedom.

EIn 1959, the Sisterhood of the Monticello Jewish Center in the heart of the Catskills published a cookbook. However, when they brought copies to the local post office to mail to those who had ordered the book, the postmaster rejected the mailing. Apparently, the book included “Shirley Goldberg’s Perfect Brisket” recipe. However, Rosalie Rabinowitz claimed that the brisket recipe was hers, and Shirley had stolen her recipe, only changing the quantity of sliced onions from 2 large to 3 large. Rosalie’s husband Abe just happened to be the local postmaster, and Abe said that he would not allow the post office to accept the books for mailing as long as Shirley’s name was on his wife’s brisket recipe. After some negotiating, the Sisterhood inserted an extra page with “Rosalie Rabinowitz’s Perfect Brisket” recipe (with the “correct” number of onions) and the books were mailed.

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Anti-Netanyahu Protests

A protest movement has grown in recent weeks in Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for bribery and corruption charges. Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets and called for Netanyahu’s resignation because of those charges, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic crisis, and his supposed efforts to manipulate the government to protect him from the corruption prosecution. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s son Yair was slapped with a restraining order by The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for illegally publishing the names and addresses of leaders of the protest movement and calling for them to be trolled, potentially putting them and their families in danger. In response, Netanyahu has blamed the media for inciting the public, saying, “There has never been such a distorted mobilization—I wanted to say Soviet but it has already reached North Korean terms—of the media in favor of the protests.” What name has been applied to the anti-Netanyahu protest movement?

July 2020, demonstrators protest in front of the official residence of Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu

Jerusalem Demonstrations by Yaara Di Segni is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

AThe Crime Minister Protest Movement.

BThe Bye Bye Bibi Movement.

CThe Justice We Shall Pursue Against Bibi Movement.

DThe People of the Book, Not the People of the Crook Movement.

EThere’s Only One BB King and it Ain’t Netanyahu Movement.

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Ted Yoho

Republican Congressman Ted Yoho, who represents the 3rd district of Florida, made the headlines last week because of his crude and sexist insults hurled at Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat who represents New York’s 14th congressional district. Ocasio-Cortez responded on the floor of the House with a passionate speech about his behavior towards her which reflects “a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women and an entire structure of power that supports that.” Congressman Yoho traveled to Israel in 2013, where he met with many Israeli political, military and civilian leaders, but also with Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority. Yoho found the trip to be very educational, as he noted “It’s always fascinated me how screwed up that whole region is.” After returning from his trip, Yoho told a Gainesville Sun reporter that Erekat conceded Israel’s right to exist, but rejected that it should be populated by Jewish people. Noting that such a position undermined any real chance of peace negotiations, Yoho then said what?

Congressman Ted Yoho

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

A. “To quote Abba Eban, ‘Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’ ”

B“Everybody needs to take a chill pill.”

C. “I feel for the Palestinian people, but it’s very clear in the Bible that God gave the land to the Israelites.”

D. “Of course, the reason that Mr. Erekat says that is because he knows that President Obama is prepared to sell out Israel.”

E“I told Mr. Erekat that he was disgusting, and I told him directly, ‘You are out of your freaking mind.’ And as I walked away, I called him a fakakta mamzer because I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country. Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language. The offensive name-calling, words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologise for their misunderstanding. In other words, I didn’t say it and if I did it’s your fault for hearing it. And did I mention, I have two daughters?”

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Portland, Oregon

The state of Oregon is suing the federal government to prevent federal agents from arresting city residents who are protesting against racism and police brutality. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who is Jewish, says that federal agents have literally grabbed people off the streets without a warrant or explanation. Mayor Ted Wheeler called the actions “a direct threat to our democracy.” It is believed that the involvement of Homeland Security agents and U.S. marshals is a political ploy by the Trump administration. Portland has a long history of civic involvement by Jews, including five Jews who have served as mayor of the city, most recently when Vera Katz held that office from 1992-2004. The first Jewish mayor of Portland was Bernard Goldsmith, who served from 1869–1871. Goldsmith was born in Bavaria and emigrated to New York City at age 5. He eventually moved to California and started a jewelry store, and in 1861 he moved to Portland where he opened a retail store with some of his brothers. Which of the following is true about Bernard Goldsmith?

The "Portland Oregon" Sign

Portland, Oregon - Old Town by Colin Durfee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A. Goldsmith was one of the first directors of the Library Association of Portland, founded in 1864. The association’s directors declared that “the library should forever be kept free of politics.”

B. As mayor of Portland, one of Goldsmith’s focuses was on making the city a livable space. He brought about the purchase of 40 acres of land for a park, which later expanded to more than 400 acres, now known as Washington Park. He also pushed for an ordinance that required business owners to plant shade trees along the street in front of their shops.

CGoldsmith served as a cavalry officer in the Indian Wars in California and Oregon in 1855-1856. He prevented renewed fighting by personally intervening and bringing complaints from Indian leaders to the superintendent for Indian affairs in San Francisco.

DGoldsmith was the driving force behind the plan to build locks on the Willamette River, enabling boats to sail from the Pacific Ocean to Eugene, Oregon, which led to  greatly reduced cost for commercial shipping. When the project was hit by cost overruns, Goldsmith contributed $200,000 of his own funds to allow the project to be completed.

EGoldsmith was the driving force behind the plan to fish for lox on the Willamette River, enabling Jewish appetizing stores to be built from the Pacific Ocean to Eugene, Oregon, which led to  greatly reduced cost for Sunday brunch. When the project was hit by cost overruns, Goldsmith contributed 200,000 bagels from his own funds to allow the project to be completed.

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