Sunday, January 29th 2023   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is the young Swedish environmental activist who first gained fame in 2018 when she called for student strikes demanding climate action. She spread her message on social media and went on to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Parliament, and national legislatures in Italy, France, the United States, and elsewhere. At the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference she excoriated world leaders for their disregard of the seriousness of the problem, exclaiming “How dare you!” Photographs of Thunberg are now being seen around Israel as part of a growing protest. What is the cause for which Greta Thunberg’s disapproving visage with the “How dare you” message has played a prominent role?

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg 02 bAnders Hellberg is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0

AThe pictures are appearing in workplace kitchens at offices including the Associated Press, Wix, and other companies, to shame workers who use disposable plastic flatware.

BThe pictures are appearing at Israeli beaches to shame beachgoers who are leaving their plastic and aluminum bottles and other garbage on the sand.

CThe pictures are appearing at hotels, inns, and tourist sites around Lake Kineret, which is polluted with record high levels of waste discharge from industrial and agricultural sources. The hope is to shame industrial farmers and manufacturers who have not done enough to reduce the environmental impact of their businesses.

DThe pictures are appearing outside bars and nightclubs in areas frequented by young Israelis, and also in religious neighborhoods. They are intended to shame smokers who toss their cigarette butts on the ground.

EThe pictures are appearing outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house and office to shame him for recycling into his government many politicians who are criminals, racists, homophobes, and theocrats (including Itamar Ben Gvir, Avi Maoz, and Bezalel Smotrich, though Aryeh Deri was moved from the recycling bin to the garbage can at the last moment under court order).

Click here for the answer.

Classified Documents

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the classified documents found in Joe Biden’s garage and office. While there are significant differences between this situation and that of Donald Trump and the documents found at Mar a Lago, at the very least this has created political turmoil for President Biden and the Democratic leadership. Israel, like all countries, maintains secrecy for many government documents. In 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a law which extended the classification time frame for many documents from 70 to 90 years, specifically secret documents maintained by such agencies as the Shin Bet, the Mossad, and the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. Around the same time, however, Israel’s State Archive published a catalog listing more than 300,000 secret documents maintained by other Israeli agencies (including the Israel Police, the Foreign Ministry, and the Prime Minister’s Office), some dating back to the 1800’s. Only the names of the documents are included, however. Journalists, historians and others who are interested must request access to view any of these documents. Journalist Asaf Shalev filed a request with the Israel Police Agency in 2019 to receive documents about the Israeli Black Panthers, an organization which fought in the 1970’s for the rights of Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. What was the reason that his request was denied?

Confidential Document cover sheet

"Confidential" coversheet bRestrictedData is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AShalev was told that despite the fact that he had found many documents about the Black Panthers included in the State Archives list, they did not actually exist and therefore could not be produced.

BShalev was told that as a result of the law that had just been signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, all of the 1970’s documents about the Black Panthers were still classified and could not be released until at least the year 2060.

CShalev was told that officials had searched for the documents he requested, but could not actually locate them among the thousands of documents which were poorly stored in government warehouses.

D. Shalev was told that he could not obtain access to the documents as he was on a list of journalists who were forbidden to receive any classified material, given his history of “anti-Israel journalism.”

EShalev was told that the person in charge of reviewing and releasing archival police records had died and the agency had not yet advertised for and hired a replacement.

Click here for the answer.

Classified Documents

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the classified documents found in Joe Biden’s garage and office. While there are significant differences between this situation and that of Donald Trump and the documents found at Mar a Lago, at the very least this has created political turmoil for President Biden and the Democratic leadership. Israel, like all countries, maintains secrecy for many government documents. In 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a law which extended the classification time frame for many documents from 70 to 90 years, specifically secret documents maintained by such agencies as the Shin Bet, the Mossad, and the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. Around the same time, however, Israel’s State Archive published a catalog listing more than 300,000 secret documents maintained by other Israeli agencies (including the Israel Police, the Foreign Ministry, and the Prime Minister’s Office), some dating back to the 1800’s. Only the names of the documents are included, however. Journalists, historians and others who are interested must request access to view any of these documents. Journalist Asaf Shalev filed a request with the Israel Police Agency in 2019 to receive documents about the Israeli Black Panthers, an organization which fought in the 1970’s for the rights of Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. What was the reason that his request was denied?

Confidential Document cover sheet

"Confidential" coversheet bRestrictedData is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AShalev was told that despite the fact that he had found many documents about the Black Panthers included in the State Archives list, they did not actually exist and therefore could not be produced.

BShalev was told that as a result of the law that had just been signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, all of the 1970’s documents about the Black Panthers were still classified and could not be released until at least the year 2060.

CShalev was told that officials had searched for the documents he requested, but could not actually locate them among the thousands of documents which were poorly stored in government warehouses.

D. Shalev was told that he could not obtain access to the documents as he was on a list of journalists who were forbidden to receive any classified material, given his history of “anti-Israel journalism.”

EShalev was told that the person in charge of reviewing and releasing archival police records had died and the agency had not yet advertised for and hired a replacement.

Click here for the answer.

Kevin McCarthy

Congressman Kevin McCarthy was finally elected Speaker of the House on the 15th vote, following negotiations with a group of approximately 20 far right-wing Republicans who demanded and received many concessions from McCarthy. Surprisingly, McCarthy was supported by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, herself a right-wing member, who referenced McCarthy’s conservative views on budgetary issues and opposition to overspending in Washington. Greene stated, “That is something that I think, especially, the new freshman Freedom Caucus members just don’t know about Kevin McCarthy, because they’ve only heard the attacks on him because they’ve been listening to Scott Perry, Chip Roy, Matt Gaetz and others.” Previously, however, McCarthy was critical of Congresswoman Greene when she said of mask mandates, “We can look back in 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.” At that time, Congressman McCarthy condemned her remarks, noting in a statement that “Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling.” He then went on to say what in that statement?

Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy - Caricature bDonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AMcCarthy strongly backed up his criticism of Congresswoman Greene by noting, “As leader of the House Republicans I assure you that I will not work with Congresswoman Greene in any fashion until she retracts her statement and issues an apology to our Jewish citizens.” 

BMcCarthy added that meanwhile, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA.”

CMcCarthy concluded, “However, what she said is not as appalling as Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic remarks. She is a far bigger threat to the Jewish community and our democracy.”

DMcCarthy concluded his critical remarks of Congresswoman Greene by saying “At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democrat Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

EMcCarthy concluded his statement by saying, “But I will say, Congresswoman Greene’s statements about Jewish space lasers intrigues me a lot.”

Click here for the answer.

Barbara Walters, z”l

Journalist Barbara Walters died last week at the age of 93. Walters was the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. She began working in television in the early 1950’s, eventually becoming the Today Show “Today Girl,” presenting weather and light news assignments. She went on to become the first female and the first Jewish co-host of an American TV news program, co-anchoring the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner. She later became famous for her in-depth interviews of many public figures, including Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, Barbara Streisand, and a joint interview with Anwar Al Sadat and Menachem Begin. Walters also created and co-hosted the ABC daytime talk show The View. Barbara Walters was married to three Jewish men and dated many other Jews and non-Jews. What other prominent Jewish person did Barbara Walters date?

Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters at Met Opera bRubenstein  is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AIn 1997, Walters began dating Bernard Lewinsky, the father of Monica Lewinsky. They had met when Bernard Lewinsky, who was an oncologist, treated Dena Walters, Barbara’s mother, for cancer. It is because of this relationship that Monica Lewinsky agreed to her famous interview with Barbara Walters at a time when every prominent news reporter was trying to land that interview.

BBarbara Walters met NBC News producer and executive Reuven Frank when she first stared working as the Today Show “Today Girl.” Walters says she started dating Frank as a way to gain entrée into the hard news side of the business, which was at that time not open to women, and in fact Frank did give her the opportunity to begin covering hard news stories.

CWhen she was in college, Barbara Walters dated Roy Cohn, the lawyer who later served as the chief counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy. Walters dated Cohn to thank him for getting an arrest warrant against her father dismissed, and Cohn claims to have later asked her to marry him (a claim which Walters denies).

D. Barbara Walters briefly dated journalist Mike Wallace, one of the correspondents on 60 Minutes. But the relationship ended when Walters landed her interview with Fidel Castro in 1976. This was Castro’s first interview with an American journalist, and Castro had agreed to meet with Wallace. But a week before Wallace was scheduled to fly to Havana for the interview, he learned that Walters had scooped him, and he ended their relationship.

EGilda Radner asked Barbara Walters out on a date in 1976. Walters was intrigued by the young comedian so she accepted, and the couple dated for a few months until Radner suddenly ended the relationship. Only later did Walters learn that Radner was just doing research as she developed her Baba Wawa character for Saturday Night Live.

Click here for the answer.

Chanukkah Greetings

There are a number of traditional greetings appropriate to Chanukkah, including Chag Sameach (Happy Holidays), Chanukkah Sameach (Happy Chanukkah), and Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights). There is also the standard Facebook greeting intro of “To All Who Celebrate…” Chanukkah greetings are offered by friends and relatives, as well as retail stores and banks, and almost every politician. What online Chanukkah greeting was offered this year by a politician which has garnered a lot of online response?

Moose Menorah

AMike Pence tweeted “Happy Hanukkah! May the light that shines from every Menorah make the world a brighter and better place.” But the accompanying picture was of a 7-candle menorah instead of the correct 9-candle hanukiyah which is used for this holiday. Online responses included “Good try, but not quite, Mr. Vice President,” “So we know that you don’t have any actual Jews on your social media team, nice work,” and “Ay dios mio… I’m not Jewish and even I know you have the wrong menorah.”

BDonald Trump tweeted a picture of a 7-candle menorah, and when he was criticized for not posting a picture of a 9-candle hanukiya, he responded, “There were 9 candles when I posted that picture, but two of the candles were stolen. I think any Jewish people that criticize that menorah – it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty. And by the way, did I mention that I have Jewish grandchildren?”

CBezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Israeli ultra-right wing Religious Zionist Party, is slated to be in the new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Smotrich has advocated to change the Law of Return to limit Israeli citizenship only to Jews who are halachically Jewish (currently anyone who has one Jewish grandparent or who is married to a Jew can become a citizen under this law). He tweeted Chanukkah greetings reading “Chag Sameach to our Jewish brethren. And to be clear, this only applies to those of you who actually have a Jewish mother. Happy holidays to the rest of you.”

D. George Santos, newly elected Congressman representing parts of Queens and Long Island, tweeted a greeting saying, “As a proud Jew, a graduate of Baruch College (named after one of my fellow Jews), a landlord who received no rent for a year because of COVID (just like so many of my fellow Jewish New York landlords), a former employee of Goldman Sachs (a company founded by Jews and filled with Jews just like me) and the owner of an animal charity, Friends of Pets, which advocates for humane slaughtering of kosher animals, I wish all my constituents a merry Chanukkah.”

EMarjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, “May your Chanukkah be filled with light from the great Jewish space laser in the sky.”

Click here for the answer.

Chanukkah

Chanukkah started last night with the lighting of the first candle. Celebrants are playing dreidel, eating latkes and sufganiyot, and singing traditional songs such as Chanukkah O Chanukkah and Maoz Tsur. But there are many other ways to celebrate the holiday, including attending concerts such as “The 8 Nights of Hanukkah” with Yo La Tengo at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin’s “Hanukkah Sessions” at Largo in Los Angeles, and “The Matzo Ball” at the historic 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi featuring Meryl Zimmerman & the Miracles. A company in Jerusalem is offering a different type of Chanukkah celebration experience. Participants get the opportunity to creatively re-enact the Maccabean battle against the Greeks in what unusual way?

Chanukkah menorahs

AEat and Meet Jerusalem, which offers cooking classes throughout the year, will be sponsoring a special Chanukkah cook-off for groups of up to 10 people. Participants will be divided into two teams, Judah’s Maccabees and Antiochus’s Greeks. The Maccabees will be taught to make traditional Chanukkah recipes, including latkes, bunelos (a traditional Sephardic treat of fried dough balls topped with orange glaze), keftes de prasa (fried leek patties that are traditional for Spanish Jews), and cassola (a baked ricotta cheesecake popular among Italian Jews). The Greeks will prepare tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters), baklava, kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini balls), and kataifi (almond syrup pastries).

BFalcon Laser Tag will set up a special Chanukkah competition for participants in a parking lot, inside a building, or in a public park for a laser tag battle between the forces of good and evil. You can also hold your laser tag event in the Engineering Corps Museum – only a 7 minute drive from Latrun, where Judah and the Maccabees prepared for battle against the Greeks.

CBeitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s premier soccer teams, is sponsoring amateur soccer games at their home field, Teddy Stadium. Families and friends can make up teams of 15-20 to be randomly assigned as Beitar Maccabees and Beitar Seleucids. The Maccabees use the Beitar Jerusalem locker room and the Seleucids use the visitor’s locker room, and everyone receives a soccer jersey with their team name. Beitar Jerusalem team members volunteer as coaches during the Chanukkah tournament, and all proceeds go to support youth soccer leagues throughout Israel.

DJerusalem Paintball is offering special Chanukkah paintball wars between the Maccabees and the Seleucids at its outdoor space in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem. The Maccabees are given blue paint balls, symbolic of the Jewish people, while the Seleucid team will fire red paint balls. But the Maccabee players are also given oil-filled balls, symbolic of the oil in the Temple which lasted eight days.

EIn an event sponsored by the creators of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, participants sign up for Toula and Motel’s Big Fat Sunrise Sunset Greek Jewish Wedding. Attendees are divided into two groups–the Jews and the Greeks, and one member of each team is selected to participate in a wedding ceremony. All of the Jews then object to the intermarriage with a Greek (a la Tevye), and all of the Greeks object to the intermarriage with a Jew (a la Gus), with everyone agreeing that the marriage won’t last a day. But in a Chanukkah miracle, the marriage actually lasts 8 days.

Click here for the answer.

Hawaii

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting on the island of Hawaii on November 27, sending molten rock and lava down its sides and huge gas emissions into the air. The first Jews to come to Hawaii were probably English and German traders who arrived in the mid-1800’s. Organized Jewish life began with the establishment of the Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1901, and a Jewish cemetery was dedicated in the same year. The current Jewish population is around 7,000, though with a large number of unaffiliated Jews it is hard to know the exact number. There are nine synagogues in Hawaii, with most of the Jewish population living in Oahu and Maui. The most famous Jew from Hawaii is singer and actress Bette Midler, who was voted “Most Talkative” in her sophomore class in high school and “Most Dramatic” in her senior year. What Jewish person played a significant role in Hawaii’s history?

Mauna Loa volcano eruption

Aerial overview of an erupting fissure of the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption by Civil Air Patrol is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

AIsaac Bensimon was a Jew who moved to Oahu from Australia in the late 1800’s. Bensimon had worked on a macadamia farm in New South Wales, and he brought seeds with him which he planted in Oahu, establishing the first macadamia crop in Hawaii. Bensimon eventually founded the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Company, which is now owned by Hershey.

BLeon Godchaux, a French Jew who emigrated to New Orleans in 1837, established plantations and sugar refineries in southern Louisiana, eventually becoming known as the Sugar King of Louisiana. Godchaux’s business expanded to Central and South America, where he became familiar with the pineapple, a plant that was originally cultivated in Brazil and Paraguay. Godchaux brought the pineapple to Hawaii, recognizing that the climate there would be particularly favorable to this plant, and he established what became Hawaii’s largest agricultural crop. 

CElias Abraham Rosenberg, who moved to Hawaii from San Francisco in 1886, became a friend of Hawaiian King David Kalākaua. Rosenberg shared Bible stories with the King and encouraged him to revive traditional Hawaiian religion, leading the King to bestow upon Rosenberg the title of kahuna-kilokilo, or royal soothsayer.

DMorris Lapidus, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant, was the architect who is most famous for his Beaux Arts design of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. Lapidus eventually moved to Hawaii, where he designed a number of resort hotels, including the Four Seasons Maui and the Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Po’ipu Beach.

EThe first European to arrive in Hawaii was British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778. A Jewish crew member, Josiah Levy, became friendly with King Kamehameha I. They each shared information about their religion and culture. The king was particularly impressed to learn that Jews used the same word as a greeting upon arrival and departure–Shalom. Given that the Hawaiian alphabet only consists of 13 letters, thus greatly limiting the number of words which could be created, the King decided to follow suit, creating the word Aloha to mean both hello and goodbye.

Click here for the answer.

Itamar Ben-Gvir

Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Israeli far right-wing Otzma Yehudit party, is set to become the Minister of Israeli Security in the new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Ben-Gvir is a very controversial figure. He was a follower of Meir Kahane and an advocate for removing Arabs from the West Bank. Ben-Gvir hung a picture on his living room wall of Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish terrorist who murdered 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron in 1994. He only took the picture down after entering politics in 2020, saying, “I’m declaring that for the sake of unity and a right-wing victory in the elections, I’m removing the photograph in my living room.” The Ministry of Israeli Security is an expanded version of the current Ministry of Internal Security, with increased authority over border police in the occupied territories. Given Ben-Gvir’s radical right-wing beliefs and statements about Arabs, many in Israel and worldwide Jewry are fearful of the steps he may take in that position. For example, Abe Foxman, former head of the ADL, recently said in response to the inclusion of Ben-Gvir in the government (along with Bezalel Smotrich, another far-right politician whom Netanyahu is appointing as finance minister), “I never thought that I would reach that point where I would say that my support of Israel is conditional...I love Israel and I want to love Israel as a Jewish and democratic state that respects pluralism.” What else did Ben-Gvir previously do that was controversial?

Itamar Ben-Gvir

Itamar Ben Gvir 1 b דוד דנברג is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

ATwo weeks before Yitchak Rabin was assassinated, Itamar Ben-Gvir stole the dog from Rabin’s yard and held it up, saying “We got to his dog, and we’ll get to him, too.”

BTwo weeks before Yitchak Rabin was assassinated, Itamar Ben-Gvir broke the hood ornament off of Rabin’s car and held it up, saying “We got to his car, and we’ll get to him, too.”

CWhen Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke, Itamar Ben-Gvir celebrated with a bar-b-q and stated, “We are, of course, happy. We hope there is a message here to everyone who wants to harm the land of Israel: the land of Israel is more powerful than all of you.”

D. Two weeks before Yitchak Rabin was assassinated, Itamar Ben-Gvir stole Rabin’s Nobel Peace Prize from his office and held it up, saying “He doesn't deserve a peace prize, he deserves a death prize.”

EItamar Ben-Gvir posted a picture of himself holding a brick and wrote, “I praise the Big Bad Wolf for blowing down the straw and stick houses of those unkosher pigs. But he failed to blow down the third pig’s brick house, so we got to the bricks, and we’ll get to those treif pigs, too.”

Click here for the answer.

Kanye

Kanye West, also known as Ye, has generated much controversy over his antisemitic remarks (among other things). As far back as 2013 he stated that Jews are more well-connected than Black people, giving them an unfair advantage. He also criticized Jared Kushner for his efforts to improve relations between Israel and Arab nations, saying that Kushner was driven by greed. And he stated that “I prefer my kids knew Hanukkah than Kwanzaa. At least it will come with some financial engineering.” He has frequently referenced Jewish control of the media, including his recent response to rapper Sean Combs, who had asked Kanye not to continue wearing a White Lives Matter shirt. Kanye said, “Ima use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me.” And last week, Kanye went to Mar-a-Lago to have lunch with Donald Trump, bringing with him Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist Holocaust denier. When Kanye recently tweeted that “I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” his Twitter account was restricted and the tweet was deleted. Following Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Kanye returned to that platform with a tweet that read “Testing Testing Seeing if my Twitter is unblocked.” He followed that with what tweet?

Kanye West

Kanye West at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

AI asked Trump to be my VP. Changing my mind. Elon-you’re my guy.

B. Special thanks to Kyrie and Chapelle for taking the attention off of me.

C. Yes, America. I’m back. Thanks, Elon, for taking Twitter out of the hands of the Jewish media.

D. Wow. I brought a white supremacist to lunch with Trump. Is there nothing I can’t do?

EShalom : )

Click here for the answer.