Thursday, October 29th 2020   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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


The pitom is the extension of an etrog at the opposite end from the stem which connects it to the tree. When is an etrog without a pitom considered kosher?


AOnly if it was accidentally broken off rather than intentionally.

B. Only if the etrog never grew with a pitom in the first place.

C. When (kosher) pigs fly.

DOnly if the etrog is first immersed in the mikvah.

E. Only if it broke off while being carried around the synagogue during the Hakafot processional.

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Tekiah Gedolah

We end Yom Kippur with Tekiah Gedolah, the final long blast of the shofar. Which of the following animal horns can be used to make a kosher shofar?


AThe branched horn of the pronghorn, and the straight partially ridged horn of the gemsbok.

B. The hollow horn of a cow, and the three-twisted horn of the kudu.

C. The antler of a deer, and the straight horn of the eland.

DThe pointy horn of the unicorn and the short stubby horn of the jackalope.

E. The horn of a giraffe, called an ossicone, and the sharp-tipped horn of the rhinocerous.

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Shana Tova

Besides Rosh Hashanah (the 1st of Tishrei), Jewish tradition notes three other New Years. You're probably familiar with the 15th of Shvat (Tu B'Shvat), the New Year of the trees. What are the other two?

L'Shana Tova Tikatevu.

AThe 15th of Nisan, which is the first night of Chanukkah, the New Year of miracles, and the 1st of Elul, which is the New Year for animal tithes.

B. The 1st of Nisan, which is the New Year for counting the reign of the kings of ancient Israel, and the 1st of Elul, which is the New Year for animal tithes.

C. The 1st of Nisan, which marks the New Year for counting Pilgrimage holidays, and the 14th of Adar, which is Purim, recognized as the New Year of freedom.

DThe 23rd of Tishrei, which is Simchat Torah, the New Year of the Torah, and the 29th of Tevet, which corresponds with the secular New Year, January 1.

E. The 12th of Nevuh, celebrating the New Year of life after your son finally gets a job and moves out of the basement, and the 16th of Nissan, marking the release of the New Year models.

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iPhone 6, Apple Pay, & Apple Watch

The Israeli company On-Track Solutions saw its stock jump by as much as 75% last Wednesday after Apple announced the iPhone 6, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch. What does On-Track Solutions make that led to the rise in its stock price?


AThe company makes products for the Orthodox community. One product is ShabbatGuard, that will automatically turn off the Apple Watch a half hour before Shabbat, disabling it until one hour after sunset on Saturday.

B. In 2010, they created a security camera that is placed in apple orchards in Israel to detect thieves, as the theft of apples is common in advance of Rosh Hashanah, when there is great demand. The camera is called "Apple Watch," and Apple announced that they will be buying On-Track Solutions in order to obtain rights to use that name for their new watch.

C. The company makes software called ShekelPay, which will enable iPhones to pay for items in Israeli shekels, which is not a currency that is supported directly by the Apple Pay software.

DApple Pay is only designed to work with the new iPhone 6. On-Track Solutions makes a product call WAVE, which is a device that plugs into older models of the iPhone, enabling them to use the Apple Pay system to purchase goods.

E. On-Track makes software called ReverseTrack, which will replace the Roman numerals on the Apple Watch with Hebrew letters, and it will cause the hands to rotate in reverse, as Hebrew is read from right to left.

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Joan Rivers, z”l

Early in Joan Rivers's career, she performed with Barbra Streisand. What did Joan comment about working with Barbra?

Joan Rivers

AThey performed together in a high school production of Fiddler On The Roof. Barbra played Tzeitel and Joan played Hodel. In her book, Diary of a Mad Diva, Joan wrote, "I knew right away that she had a stage career ahead of her. And I knew right away that the only way I would ever become famous is by making fun of people like her.”

B. They worked together in New York in a stage play, Driftwood, as sisters, and Joan said Barbra "was all nose.”

C. They worked together in New York in a stage play, Driftwood, as lesbian lovers, and Joan said Barbra "was all tongue.”

DThey competed against each other in a talent show at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. In her memoir, I Hate Everyone...Starting With Me, Joan wrote, "I went on first, but when Barbra performed after me, I went to Mr. Greenbaum, the teacher in charge of the contest and said, 'I quit. I'm going to put my head in an oven.' And I never appeared on the same stage with her again.”

E. They both performed regularly in New York clubs including the Blue Angel and Bon Soir, but seldom on the same evening. Joan said that "every time I went to an audition, the management told me that they only have room for one loud Jewish girl with an irritating accent. And they didn't mean me!”

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Labor Day

Jewish immigrants made up a large part of the early American labor movement, and Jewish women, in particular, were a significant part of the membership of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). The union, driven in part by the insight of women, recognized the importance of addressing not only labor issues such as wages and safety, but also broader human issues, such as education, community, and dignity. What phrase captured this concept?

Labor Day

A. Avodah v’Chaim (Work and Life).

B. Bread and Roses.

C. Guns and Roses.

DParnosseh iz a refueh tsu alleh krenk (A good livelihood is a cure for all ills).

E. All work and no play make Jews very dull boys and girls.

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Ice Bucket Challenge

Why did the U. S. State Department bar ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro from participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Ice bucket

A. He was planning to participate in an Ice Bucket Challenge event that was scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv on September 11, which the State Department deemed to be an inappropriate date.

B. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel was requiring all participants to recite the "Netilat Yadayim" (hand washing) prayer before participating. The State Department's rules do not allow employees to participate in religious rituals.

C. The State Department did not want its ambassador to be taking part in an event that might be perceived as frivolous at the same time that difficult negotiations are taking place between the Israeli and American governments over the Gaza crisis.

D. State Department rules forbid employees from public involvement with charities, to avoid any show of favoritism.

E. The State Department has rules forbidding its employees from participating in events deemed to be "inappropriate, lewd, or indecent." As a result, they ruled that participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge was forbidden as it is a form of a wet T-shirt contest.

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Where Y’at, New Orleans

Shout out to the New Orleans Crescent City Jewish News, now carrying the RASHI, RAMBAM and RAMALAMADINGDONG weekly quiz on their website.

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In 1961, American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell organized a "hate ride" to New Orleans in a bus emblazoned with signs reading "Lincoln Rockwell's Hate Bus," "We Do Hate Race Mixing," and "We Hate Jew-Communism." What local event were they protesting?

New Orleans Mardi Gras balcony

A. The New Orleans premier of the movie Exodus.

B. The appearance of Louis Armstrong at a concert held at Temple Sinai, the first time in New Orleans that a black entertainer performed in front of a mixed black and white audience in a public venue.

C. The decision by the Mardi Gras Krewe of Rex to admit a Jewish member.

DThe support of the desegregation of the New Orleans public schools by the local Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League.

E. The decision by Café Du Monde to obtain kosher certification for its beignets.

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When the Sanhedrin (the “Torah court” of ancient Israel) determined that the new moon had been sighted, marking the beginning of a new month, they spread the word through the building of a series of hilltop bonfires which could be seen by others further from Jerusalem. Why did they discontinue this system and instead begin using dispatched messengers?


A. After Constantine the Great, leader of the Roman Empire, converted to Christianity, the Sanhedrin determined that a public announcement of the new month via bonfires would draw undue attention to the Jews, leading to a possible effort by Constantine to convert them. Therefore, they discontinued the bonfires and began using messengers.

B. One of the bonfires spread out of control and destroyed the town of Shiloh, leading to the Sanhedrin's ban on bonfires.

C. As a result of climate change, the normally desert-like climate of ancient Israel became very humid and rainy. Torrential downpours were frequently preventing the building of bonfires, thus causing the Sanhedrin to make the change to dispatched messengers. (The Sadducess, who were climate-change deniers, continued to build bonfires despite the fact that they were regularly extinguished by monsoon-like rains).

D. This was an example of the difference between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. Shammai said that fires should be lit as a reference to G-d's announcement of the creation of the universe, "Vayehi Or (Let there be light)." Hillel said that messengers should be sent, as a symbol of the angels that G-d sent as messengers to the Patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, and other Biblical figures. As was generally the case, the opinion of Hillel took precedence.

E. The Sadducees, who did not recognize the rabbinic authority of the Sanhedrin, began setting bogus bonfires on the wrong date to manipulate the calendar.

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The Congressional Dillingham Commission, which operated between 1907 and 1911, impacted Jewish immigrants to America in what way?

A. Until the turn of the 20th century, United States senators were elected by state legislatures. Based on the recommendation of the Dillingham Commission, the Seventeenth Amendment to the constitution was proposed, and eventually ratified in 1913, bringing about direct election of senators by popular vote. This benefited the Jews because no state legislature had ever elected a Jewish senator, but with a popular vote rather than one dependent upon bargaining and politicking in state legislatures, the first Jewish senator, Isidor Rayner, an immigrant from Lodz, Poland, was elected from the state of Maryland in 1914.

B. The Dillingham Commission was created to study how to better integrate the huge influx of eastern European immigrants, including Jews, into the United States military. Among their findings was a need to provide kosher food for Jewish soldiers, resulting in an arrangement with the National Jewish Welfare Board to provide this food, as well as matzah at Passover time, and kiddush wine on Friday nights.

C. Studying immigration issues, the Commission concluded that the huge number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe (including millions of Jews) was a serious threat to American society. This led to increasing restrictions on the number of immigrants, and eventually an almost total closure of the borders to Jewish and other immigration through the Emergency Immigration Act and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, followed by the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924.

D. As modern refrigeration methods had not yet been invented, the Dillingham Commission studied safety in the food industry, and in particular the new “Dillingham” process of pickling pig meat in order to preserve it. With the approval of this method of preserving ham, pork and other pig products, many poor immigrant Jews chose to abandon the rules of kashrut at a time when kosher meat was expensive and difficult to store safely.

E. Huge numbers of Jewish children were fleeing pogroms in Europe by stowing away on ships sailing to America. To prevent the influx of these illegal immigrants, the Dillingham Commission recommended the construction of a border fence around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to prevent these illegal aliens from entering America and taking jobs from American citizens.

Statue of Liberty behind barbed wire

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