Saturday, June 15th 2024   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it would be eliminating up to 15% of their corporate jobs in an attempt to save money at a time of greatly declining sales. At the same time, the company, which has 10 years left on its naming rights deal for Levi’s Stadium (site of the San Francisco 49ers victory over the Detroit Lions yesterday, placing them in the Super Bowl), announced that they have extended that contract to maintain the stadium name until 2043. Levi Strauss immigrated to New York from Buttenheim in Bavaria in 1847. He worked in his family’s dry goods business, and in 1854 he moved to San Francisco, where he opened the west coast division of the company. In the 1870s, Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the denim jeans that went on to become their primary product, first for workers such as lumberjacks and railroad employees, and eventually as fashion items, with Levi’s jeans now being sold in 110 countries, with annual revenue of more than 4 billion dollars. Which of the following is true about Levi Strauss and Levi’s jeans?

Levi Strauss 1 is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A. Strauss came up with the idea for denim pants with rivets based on the apron his uncle, a butcher, used in their hometown in Bavaria. The apron included rivets which attached the waist and neck ties to the main denim material of the apron.

B. The company’s iconic product is Levi’s 501 jeans, first sold 150 years ago. Strauss gave them that name based on the gematria, or numerical value, of the Hebrew word אֹשֶׁר, osher, which means happiness.

C. Strauss did not actually create Levi’s jeans. He just paid for the patent that was granted for the design of the pants.

D. Levi Strauss died in 1902 and was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Colma, just south of San Francisco. His coffin was custom made, covered in denim and sealed with Levi Strauss & Co. rivets.

E. The company has produced denim yarmulkes with their iconic rivet at the top.

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New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Republican primary is being held this week. While Donald Trump is the clear front runner, Nikki Haley has narrowed the gap significantly in recent weeks. New Hampshire is home to about 10,000 Jewish residents, with a history going back to the late 1600’s. Among the many historic homes under the auspices of the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth is the Shapiro House, built in 1795 by Abraham and Sarah Shapiro, immigrants from the Ukraine. The state has about 10 Reform and Conservative synagogues, plus two Chabad Centers. Among the notable Jews from New Hampshire are comedian Sarah Silverman and Senator Warren Rudman, who served from 1980-1993. Though the Jewish population is small, what is the situation where the Jewish population temporarily grows significantly in New Hampshire?

Strawbery Banke Shapiro House by benito roveran is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED

A. YJP Boston, a social and networking group of young Jewish professionals, holds an annual Chanukkah Ski Weekend at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire that attracts hundreds of participants every year.

B. In election years, many Jews who live in Massachusetts move temporarily to New Hampshire to vote in the presidential primary (New Hampshire law allows part-time residents to register to vote).

C. In October, Chabad of Manchester sponsors a “Changing Leaves Sukkos” celebration that attracts Jews from across New England, featuring a giant sukkah located in the foothills of the White Mountains, with views through the sukkah roof of the beautiful Fall leaves.

D. In the summer, Satmar Chassidic Jews flee from polluted Brooklyn and head to Bethlehem, New Hampshire for allergin-free fresh air.

E. In December, Messianic Jews from across America flee from their heathen communities and head to Bethlehem, New Hampshire to celebrate Christmas.

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Chabad Tunnel

The Chabad Lubavitch Chassidic world has been in turmoil with the discovery of a hidden tunnel connecting Lubavitcher headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to a side building. The tunnel was secretly built by followers of the Meshichisten, or Messianist movement–Chassidic Jews who believe that the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (who died in 1994) is actually the Messiah. This group is considered fringe by most Lubavitchers, but they still maintain a presence in the basement of 770, though they are not allowed upstairs. When Chabad representatives brought in a construction crew to seal the tunnel, a number of Meshichisten rioted, leading to police involvement and nine arrests. Engineers and construction crews are now trying to close up the tunnel and secure the buildings that may be structurally compromised. It’s not clear why the Meshichisten built the tunnel, though one theory is that it was to aid in the expansion of the building, which, according to one of the Meshichisten, “The Rebbe, the words of the rabbi, says they need to expand it.” But another Chabad follower said that the tunnel builders were simply bored rabbinical students, noting “If you have a lot of time on your hands, you’re not doing drugs, you’re not messing with girls. You go snooping around and all of a sudden a bunch of guys are like, ‘Lets do something.’” Chabad spokesperson Motti Seligson referred to those who built the tunnel as “young agitators” and “extremist students.” In the basement synagogue where the Meshichisten pray, there is a banner on the wall with their credo. What does the banner read?

770Lubavitch is in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons

A. רֶבִּי מֶלֶךְ יְשׂרָאֵל חַי חַי וְקַיָם Rebbe, Melech Yisrael, Chai Chai v’Kayam. (Rebbe, King of Israel, lives and endures.)

B. מִי זֶה מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד הַרֶבִּי עִזּוּז וְגִבּוֹר Mi Zeh Melech Hakavod? HaRebbe Izuz V’gibor. (Who is the sovereign who is exalted? The Rebbe, mighty and triumphant.)

C. יְחִי אֲדוֹנֵנוּ מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַמָשִׁיחַ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’olam Vaed! (Long live our master, our teacher and our rabbi king moshiach forever and ever.)

D. וְהוּא הָיָה וְהוּא הֹוֶה וְהוּא יִהְיֶה בְּתִפְאָרָה V’hu Haya, V’hu hoveh, V’hu Yih’yeh B’tifara. (He was, He is, and He shall be in glory.)

E. מְנַחֵם מֶנְדְל שְׁנִיאוּרסוֹן הַעֵז Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Ha-Ez. (Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the GOAT.) [Editor’s note: Greatest Of All Torah-scholars.]

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Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley has recently gained some traction in the race for the Republican nomination for president, though she still significantly trails frontrunner Donald Trump. And she is struggling to overcome the criticism she received for responding to a question about the cause of the Civil War without acknowledging slavery. Haley served as ambassador to the United Nations under President Trump, where she was a staunch defender of Israel, saying among other things “The [UN’s Human Rights] Council must end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism.” She recently said in an interview, “I hope that everyone will remember what a good friend I was to Israel and know that I would never let up on that.” Nikki Haley has received praise from many Israelis, including which of the following?

Ambassador Nikki Haley visit June 2017 by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED via Wikimedia Commons

A. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu issued a statement when Nikki Haley announced her run, saying, “Israel never had a better friend in the United Nations than Nikki Haley. If she is elected president of the United States I have no doubt that she will continue to be a fighter for Israel and Jews worldwide.”

B. Israeli model and actress Gad Gadot met Nikki Haley at the 2019 AIPAC in Washington, DC when Gal Gadot was a speaker in a session titled, “Obstacles and Opportunities: Women of a Start-Up Nation.” When Haley announced her candidacy, Gadot tweeted that “Nikki Haley is an American politician who understands Israel’s needs, and she is a woman who can lead in what is still in so many ways a man’s world.”

C. When Haley announced her bid for the presidency, Danny Danon, former Knesset member and Israeli ambassador to the United Nations tweeted “Nikki is a true friend of Israel. I have no doubt that she will always stand by our side. Likewise, Israel will always be the closest ally of the US. Good luck Nikki!”

D. Author and journalist Yossi Halevi Klein said last year about Haley, “It is not my place to tell Americans who to vote for. But what I can do is tell Americans who would be good for Israel. Nikki Haley is the only Republican candidate at this point who fits that description. She understands Israel and recognizes that the United States must support Israel. But from her time at the United Nations, she also understands the challenge of finding a way to expand Israel’s relationship with moderate Arab nations.”

E. The Jerusalem Boys Choir recorded and posted a song titled Nikki Haley, Running For The Top, with lyrics including “Who is that flying high?/Beautiful as the moon/Her hair flows like the Mountains of Gilead.”

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Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley has recently gained some traction in the race for the Republican nomination for president, though she still significantly trails frontrunner Donald Trump. And she is struggling to overcome the criticism she received for responding to a question about the cause of the Civil War without acknowledging slavery. Haley served as ambassador to the United Nations under President Trump, where she was a staunch defender of Israel, saying among other things “The [UN’s Human Rights] Council must end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism.” She recently said in an interview, “I hope that everyone will remember what a good friend I was to Israel and know that I would never let up on that.” Nikki Haley has received praise from many Israelis, including which of the following?

Ambassador Nikki Haley visit June 2017 by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED via Wikimedia Commons

A. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu issued a statement when Nikki Haley announced her run, saying, “Israel never had a better friend in the United Nations than Nikki Haley. If she is elected president of the United States I have no doubt that she will continue to be a fighter for Israel and Jews worldwide.”

B. Israeli model and actress Gad Gadot met Nikki Haley at the 2019 AIPAC in Washington, DC when Gal Gadot was a speaker in a session titled, “Obstacles and Opportunities: Women of a Start-Up Nation.” When Haley announced her candidacy, Gadot tweeted that “Nikki Haley is an American politician who understands Israel’s needs, and she is a woman who can lead in what is still in so many ways a man’s world.”

C. When Haley announced her bid for the presidency, Danny Danon, former Knesset member and Israeli ambassador to the United Nations tweeted “Nikki is a true friend of Israel. I have no doubt that she will always stand by our side. Likewise, Israel will always be the closest ally of the US. Good luck Nikki!”

D. Author and journalist Yossi Halevi Klein said last year about Haley, “It is not my place to tell Americans who to vote for. But what I can do is tell Americans who would be good for Israel. Nikki Haley is the only Republican candidate at this point who fits that description. She understands Israel and recognizes that the United States must support Israel. But from her time at the United Nations, she also understands the challenge of finding a way to expand Israel’s relationship with moderate Arab nations.”

E. The Jerusalem Boys Choir recorded and posted a song titled Nikki Haley, Running For The Top, with lyrics including “Who is that flying high?/Beautiful as the moon/Her hair flows like the Mountains of Gilead.”

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Tommy Smothers, RIP

Tommy Smothers, half of the Smothers Brothers comedy team, passed away last week. The Smothers Brothers combined music, humor, and their playful sibling rivalry (Tommy’s trademark retort to Dick was “Mom always liked you best”) to entertain, while also emphasizing political satire and liberal politics as part of their presentation. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour made its debut on CBS in February of 1967, but was abruptly canceled in April 1969 after many fights between the brothers and the network. Controversy surrounded sketches which included the words “breast” and “heterosexual,” as well as musical guests including Pete Seeger performing the anti-war song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and Harry Belafonte singing “Lord, Don’t Stop the Carnival” as a protest against the violence-filled 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Both of those musical performances were pulled from the broadcast. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour also featured performances by comedians including George Carlin, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin and many others. One sketch which is included on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: Best of, Vol. 2 is entitled Talking Jewish. In this bit, Tommy Smothers introduced their guest as “one of the chosen people,” and went on to tell the guest that “both my brother and myself have always liked your act because you do great shtick,” which he described as “a show biz phrase.” The Smothers Brothers and this guest continued to joke back and forth about “Jewish” words and accents. Who were the Smothers Brothers bantering with in the Talking Jewish sketch?

Dick and Tom Smothers playing about on tricycles by Los Angeles Times is licensed under CC-BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A. David Steinberg.

B. Jackie Mason.

C. Henny Youngman.

D. Don Rickles.

E. Henry Kissinger.

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Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani was recently found liable for defamation after making false claims against two Georgia election workers, following the defeat of Donald Trump in the last presidential election. Last week Giuliani was ordered to pay retribution of $148 million to the victims, which led him to declare bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Giuliani continues to repeat his false claims, stating that “Everything I said about them is true.” This is not the only time Giuliani has been brought into court. He was sued for sexual assault and harassment by a former associate in a case which led to revelations of recordings wherein Giuliani made many controversial statements. Some of those statements included comments about Jews, including demeaning insults about Jewish men’s sexual prowess. In those tapes, Giuliani also criticized Jews for their celebration of what holiday?

Rudy Giuliani (2167875970) by Marc Nozell is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Wikimedia Commons

A. Regarding Yom Kippur, he said, “Get over the Yom Kippur. This is 2018. You gotta eat, people.”

B. Regarding Passover, he said “Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago. The Red Sea parted, big deal. It’s not the first time that happened.”

C. Regarding Succot, he said, “Get over your Succahs. Those little huts are more ridiculous than those rat-infested COVID huts that restaurants are cluttering up the streets with.”

D. Regarding Chanukah, he said, “Get over that Chanukah. So the oil burned for a week. My oil burner has been working for years so who cares. Put up a tree and drink some nog like the rest of us.”

E. Regarding Tzom Gedaliah, he said, “Get over that Tzom thing. I mean really? A fast day to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah? If you’re gonna skip a meal for every Jew who was ever killed then who’s gonna eat all of that disgusting chopped liver and gribenes?”

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Norman Lear, z'”l

Norman Lear died last week at the age of 101. Lear was a writer and producer who created dozens of television sitcoms, including “All in the Family””>Sanford and SonMaudeThe Jeffersons, and One Day at a Time, among others. He received numerous awards for his work, including 6 Emmys, 2 Peabodys, the National Medal of Arts, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Lear was also very involved in progressive politics, most notably as a founder of People for the American Way, whose mission is to fight for equality, pluralism, freedom of thought, and compassion for others. Lear was born to Jewish parents in New Haven, CT, and though he was not religious, he described himself “as culturally Jewish as I could be and proud to be Jewish.” He noted that listening to the antisemitic Father Coughlin on the radio influenced his thinking and led him toward social activism. In 1974, Lear founded a production company whose name was influenced by his Judaism. What was the company called?

Norman Lear 2017 by U.S. State Department is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A. TAT Communications, from the phrase Tukhes Afn Tish, meaning “Buttocks on the table.”

B. Ken Men Productions, from the phrase Az me muz, ken men, which translates to “If you have to, you can.”

C. MTGL Productions, from the phrase, Mensch Tracht un Got Lacht, which means “Man plans and God laughs.”

D. CvC Communications, from the phrase Chas vChalila, meaning “God Forbid.”

E. FleyshKop Enterprises, Yiddish for “Meat Head.”

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Henry Kissinger, z”l

 

Henry Kissinger died last week at the age of 100. Born in 1923 in Germany, Kissinger and his family fled the country in 1938 to escape increasing antisemitism, including beatings he suffered by Hitler Youth gang members. He went to college in New York, studying accounting, until he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served in the intelligence division during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he received advanced degrees and was a faculty member in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He entered the political realm, working as a foreign policy advisor to Nelson Rockefeller, later becoming National Security Advisor under President Richard Nixon. He then became Secretary of State under Nixon as well as President Gerald Ford. He negotiated the cease fire that led to the end of the Viet Nam War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. But he has also been viewed by many as a war criminal, responsible for the deaths of millions because of his policies in Southeast Asia, South America, the Middle East, and other areas of conflict. Kissinger was criticized for ignoring the plight of Soviet Jews, saying that “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” He played a major role during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, facilitating negotiations that eventually led to an end to the war and a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt following the Camp David Accords. But Kissinger has been accused of delaying arms shipments to Israel during that war in order to force Israel into post-war diplomacy, a charge which Kissinger denied. Though raised Orthodox, Kissinger’s religious identity was complicated. He is reported to have said, “Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?” What comment did Kissinger make in reference to his being born a German Jew?

and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, meeting in the Oval Office 1973.gif by Atkins, Oliver F. is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A. “If it were not for the accident of my birth [at the beginning of the Nazi era in Germany], I probably would have been a rabbi instead of a refugee.”

B. “If it were not for the accident of my birth [as a non-US citizen], I could have been president of the United States.”

C. “If it were not for the accident of my birth [as a Jew], I might have been the German Secretary of State instead of the American Secretary.

D. “If it were not for the accident of my birth [as a Jew], I would be antisemitic.”

E. “If it were not for the accident of my birth [as a short bookish nerd] I could have been a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and dating Taylor Swift.

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Javier Milei

 

Javier Milei was just elected president of Argentina. Milei, an economist, author, politician, former tantric sex coach, and self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” is a right-wing libertarian and populist who supports freedom of choice on issues such as drugs, guns, prostitution, and LGBTQ issues, while opposing abortion. He believes that global warming is a “socialist lie” and has pledged to not raise taxes, noting that “I will never raise a tax, I will never create new taxes,” while also saying that “Jesus didn’t pay taxes.” Upon Milei’s victory in the presidential race, Donald Trump tweeted that  “I am very proud of you. You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!” What connection does Milei have to Judaism?

Javier Milei by Cámara de Diputados de la Nación Argentina is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A. Though he is Catholic, he maintains a kosher-style diet, eating no pork products or shellfish, noting that “what works for Jesus’s people works for me.”

B. He studies Torah on a daily basis, commenting that “The rabbi who helps me study says that I should read the Torah from the point of view of economic analysis.”

C. His mother was Jewish and he attended Hebrew school as a child, but he later converted to Catholicism, commenting that “If I am to make my way in Argentina, I will need to do so with the support of the Holy Father.”

D. He considered converting to Judaism, but decided that becoming Sabbath-observant would interfere with his duties as president, saying “If I am president and Shabbat falls, what do I do? Are you going to disconnect from the country from the first star on Friday to the first star on Saturday?”

E. He is a strong supporter of Israel, often walked onstage at his rallies to the sound of a shofar, and has said, “I’m almost Jewish. I’m just missing the ‘blood covenant.’ ”

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