Saturday, October 31st 2020   |

Jewish Trivia Quiz

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

Rudy Giuliani

There are still many unanswered questions remaining as to the role that Rudy Giuliani played in the efforts by President Trump to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Joe Biden himself, and Hillary Clinton. It is known that Giuliani had ties to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted for conspiring to violate the ban on foreign donations in connection with United States elections. Parnas and Fruman also introduced Giuliani to a Ukrainian rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Azman, who bestowed what title on the man who was once known as “America's Mayor?”

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A. Rabbi Azman gave Giuliani the title of “Honorary Chief Rabbi of Ukraine” and presented him with a mezuzah.

B. Rabbi Azman gave Giuliani the title of “Rudy, Melech Yisrael” and gave him a yarmulke with a map of Israel and a map of Ukraine linked by a Jewish star.

C. Rabbi Azman gave Giuliani the title of “Honorary Mayor of Anatevka” and awarded him a key to the city.

D. Rabbi Azman gave Giuliani the title of “The Righteous Gentile of Ukraine” and planted a tree in his honor in front of the Great Choral Synagogue of Kiev.

E. Rabbi Azman gave Giuliani the title of “More of a Jew Than George Soros” and circumcised him.

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Jerry Herman, z”l

Tony Award-winner Jerry Herman, composer of Mame, Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, died last week. His first Broadway score was for the musical Milk and Honey, which told the story of Jewish widows traveling to Israel with hopes of finding husbands. Among the stars of Milk and Honey was Yiddish theatre legend Molly Picon, who had first appeared on stage in 1904 at the age of 6. When Milk and Honey was in previews in New Haven, Picon got a rousing round of applause following her rendition of the song Hymn to Hymie. The show’s director, Albert Marre, then suggested to Jerry Herman that they add Picon’s “trademark move” at the end of that song. Herman questioned what the move had to do with the song, to which Marre replied, “We’re a musical comedy, we can do what we want.” What was the 64-year-old Picon’s “move” that Marre and Herman added to the show?

Jerry_Herman_2010 by U.S. federal government is in the public domain.

A. She launched into a Tza’ad Temani, the traditional Yemenite dance steps often performed at Sephardic weddings.

BShe started shimmying and shaking her arms in the air, a dance move that she first performed in the 1936 movie Yidl Mitn Fidl. In the movie, Picon and her father are traveling musicians in Poland, and she dresses as a boy for safety, which becomes complicated when she falls in love with another of the musicians and performs that dance move. Picon’s dance was later copied by Jerome Robbins for Tevye’s If I Were a Rich Man choreography in Fiddler on the Roof.

CPicon, who was the daughter of Polish immigrants, danced the Mazurka, which is a traditional up-tempo Polish dance common among Ashkenazic Jews.

D. Picon revived her famous “patsh-tants” moves that she first performed in the film Mamele in 1938. Patsh-tants means clap dance, and refers to a style of dancing with hand clapping that was common at Jewish weddings in Eastern Europe.

EShe did a somersault, a move she had done since she was a rambunctious young girl dancing around her living room.

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Chanukkah Miracle

The primary focus of Chanukkah is on the miracle of the oil. The Maccabees rededicated the Temple after their victory over the Greeks, and found only enough oil to last for one day. But miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, leading to the 8-day celebration of Chanukkah and the lighting of the menorah. When was the story of the oil miracle first mentioned?

Chanukkah menorahs

AThe Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus wrote about the oil miracle in his book Jewish Antiquities, about a hundred years after the Maccabean victory. He described in great detail the decrepit condition of the Temple when the Maccabees arrived, including “plants growing in the temple of their own accord.” He also noted the effort of the Maccabees to find oil for the rededication of the Temple, writing, “they searched throughout the Temple, and in every corner, but did not find enough holy oil for their needs.” But Josephus ends by saying that “Judas and his men praised God for the light which shone for eight days and eight nights.”

B. The oil miracle was not mentioned until about 600 years after the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees. In the Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 21b states that “there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of Hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings.”

C. The miracle is described in the first Book of Maccabees which was written soon after the Maccabean victory. The book describes Alexander the Great’s conquest of Judea, his eventual replacement by Antiochus, and the Maccabean revolt and victory. The last chapter of the Book of Maccabees describes the return to the Temple and its rededication, stating “They rose early on the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Kislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar for burnt offerings that they had made...For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully praised God for the miracle of light.”

D. The Mishnah was compiled by Rabbi Judah the Prince around 200 CE, about 350 years after the Maccabean victory. Much of the Mishnah focuses on the Oral Tradition, noting the debates of the rabbis on such topics as marriage, civil law, and sacrificial rites. In the Tractate Chanukkah, Rabbi Judah writes about the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, and goes on to describe the debate between Hillel and Shammai regarding the correct way to light the menorah (Shammai said that it was correct to light eight candles on the first night, and one less each subsequent night, while Hillel argued that “On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, they kindle eight lights.”)

EIn the Book of Chevron, written centuries after the rededication of the Temple, it was posited that oil could last forever, a concept which maintains primacy among certain politicians in America to this very day.

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Toilets in Israel

President Trump railed against regulations which are designed to conserve water by claiming that people flush their toilets 10 or 15 times. Unlike America, Israeli toilets all have double handles, allowing the flusher to use less water when that is called for. Archaeologists in Israel have discovered toilets that are thousands of years old, and the Book of Judges includes a reference to King Eglon of Moab which says, “When they saw that the doors of the upper chamber were locked, they thought, ‘He must be relieving himself in the cool chamber.’ ” [Chapter 3, Verse 24]. Much is written in the Talmud about bathroom etiquette, including by Rabbi Tanhum b. Hanilai, who said “Whoever behaves modestly in a privy is delivered from three things: from snakes, from scorpions, and from evil spirits.” [Berakhot 62a]. In 1975, Israeli writer Alona Frankel wrote a toilet training book for her child that became universally used in Israel and around the world, and is still in print today. The child finally succeeds at the task, and ends the book by saying “Bye-bye, wee-wee, Bye-bye, poo-poo.” What is the title of that children’s book?

Ancient Toilets-Israel by Greg Schechter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AMy Little Pishers.

BHaggadah Go. Now!

CJudah Make-a-Pee.

DThe Book of Tuches.

ESir HaSirim (Potty of Potties).

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Israeli Cars

Automobile manufacturers are in the news lately. Tesla had a huge fail during the marketing “reveal” of their new Cybertruck, when a steel ball thrown at the window smashed through the supposedly unbreakable armored glass. Dozens of companies are working on self-driving cars, including Amazon, Bosch, Apple, and Samsung, along with many traditional auto manufacturers. And the movie Ford V Ferrari starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale highlights the true story of Henry Ford II and Lee Iaococca as they attempted to create a racing car that could defeat the dominant Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. Meanwhile, an Israeli startup named REE has brought their own ingenuity to auto design. What is the unique feature of the automobile they are developing?

"Jewish" car

Breslau Car-1 by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A. Addressing the very high rate of injuries and deaths from auto accidents in Israel, REE has developed a car that will not crash into other vehicles, road signs, trees, or pedestrians. The car utilizes the Iron Dome technology developed by the Israeli defense industry. Sensors mounted on the front of the car detect potential obstacles ahead and immediately launch intercept rockets to eliminate the potential collision risk. The car’s production is on hold, however, as the courts attempt to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Israeli Safe Streets Association, a pedestrian-safety organization which objects to missiles being launched at jaywalkers.

B. Utilizing technology developed by Israel’s energy industries, REE has created a car which is completely powered by solar panels on its roof. The difficult part of the project was not the collection of solar energy (though the solar panels eliminate the ability to have a sunroof or moonroof on the car), but rather the storage of the energy for use at night or during periods of limited sunshine. Israeli engineers at the Technion Institute were able to develop storage batteries that are a built-in component of the car’s chassis and doors.

C. REE engineers designed the car based on the hoverboards which have become ubiquitous in Israel and elsewhere. The car does not have a front engine and steering mechanism, but rather functions with all of the major components (motor, brakes, drivetrain, steering, etc) built into the wheels, which are topped by a flat skateboard chassis.

D. Utilizing one of Israel’s most abundant resources, REE has developed a car engine that runs on salt water. The high electrical conductivity of salt water makes it a product that is very conducive to energy-producing reactions, and the only emission is clean water. The car is also lightweight, as all of the engine components are made of aluminum, to avoid the possibility of rust formation from the salt water.

E. Engineers at REE have designed an “Orthodox friendly” minivan, which they are calling the ChassidiVan. The 6-person vehicle is built with an expandable accordion design, allowing the car to be lengthened as the size of the family grows, ultimately accommodating up to 12 passengers. The car is programmed to automatically stop driving 20 minutes before sundown on Friday nights and holidays, and won't start up again until Shabbat or the holiday ends. The Diaspora model is specifically designed for export sales, as it is programmed to shut down for two days on the major holidays. The ChassidiVan also comes with a raised roof over the driver’s seat, based on the cupola top of the Israeli Merkava tank, to accommodate the tall shtreimel hat worn by religious drivers. Plus, the vehicle features 8 milchig and 8 fleishig cupholders.

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Netanyahu Indictment

Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu faces a leadership battle within the Likud party following his indictment for fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. In one investigation known as Case 2000, it is alleged that Bibi pressured Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Israel Hayom newspaper, not to expand, which would benefit another newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and its publisher Arnon Mozes who was also indicted. This case pits Netanyahu against Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who were previously among Bibi’s biggest supporters. Miriam Adelson, who is the current publisher of Israel Hayom, told investigators, among other things, that Sara Netanyahu complained that when Israel Hayom published a picture of her, the picture was too small. What bad consequence did Sara Netanyahu say would befall Bibi because Israel Hayom did not defend him enough?

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu

A. She stated that their lack of support would lead to Bibi’s electoral defeat.

BShe complained that if Donald Trump got impeached, Bibi would be blamed for naming an Israeli town after him.

C. She said the newspaper’s lack of support for Bibi would lead him to be blamed if Iran got nuclear weapons and wiped out Israel.

DShe said that because of their lack of support, Bibi would definitely be indicted.

E. She said that the paper’s insufficient defense of Bibi would lead to his ouster, followed by his loss to Sean Spicer on Dancing With the Stars.

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Hunter Biden

Impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump focus on his withholding of Congressionally-authorized United States aid to Ukraine in order to first get a Ukrainian commitment to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. It is alleged that this was an extortion effort by Trump for the purpose of hurting his Democratic rival and benefiting his own reelection efforts. Hunter Biden has what Jewish connection in his life?

Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden 3219469044 by acaben is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AHunter Biden and his wife Melissa, who is Jewish, are members of a Reform synagogue. Hunter Biden recently became one of two non-Jewish members of the Board of Trustees of the Temple.

B. Hunter Biden and his wife Melissa, who is Jewish, both have tattoos which read “Ani Dodi v’Dodi Li” in Hebrew (“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”)

CHunter Biden attended Georgetown University, where he was one of the first two non-Jewish members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

D. Hunter Biden and his wife Melissa, who is Jewish, both have tattoos which read “Shalom” in Hebrew.

EHunter Biden, whose wife Melissa is Jewish, joined the board of her synagogue, which paid him $50,000/month, even though he never did any work and he did not even show up in shul.

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Adam Neumann & WeWork

Israeli Adam Neumann graduated from the Israeli Naval Academy and became a captain in the Israeli Navy before going to business school at Baruch College in New York. In 2010 he co-founded WeWork with his friend Miguel McKelvey, providing shared workspaces geared to startups, entrepreneurs, and small companies. WeWork (which at one point included the following slogan on their website: “We dedicate this to the energy of we – greater than any one of us but inside each of us.”) grew over the next nine years to employ more than 5000 people, and achieved a value of approximately $47 billion. The company began plans for an IPO in 2019, but public scrutiny of the company’s business model and Neumann’s leadership led to a huge drop in valuation (to approximately $12 billion) and a postponement of the IPO offering. Neumann stepped down as CEO in September. Neumann has always been a controversial figure. He claimed to have convinced Rahm Emanuel to run for president and says that Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman improved the standing of Saudi women because of his intervention. He also stated that he aspired to be the Prime Minster of Israel, as well as the “president of the world.” Prior to starting WeWork, Neumann unsuccessfully pursued other business ideas, including the design of a line of women’s shoes with collapsible heels. Which of the following was another one of Neumann’s failed business concepts?

Adam Neumann

TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 - Day 1 by TechCrunch is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A. He created a baseball cap with a built-in solar panel that could be used to charge cell phones. The product was marketed with the line “Use your head on a sunny day.”

BHe created a company which sold baby clothes with knee pads, under the slogan “Just because they donʼt tell you, doesnʼt mean they donʼt hurt.”

C. He designed a golf ball with a built in GPS which would communicate with golfers via their cell phones, enabling them to locate where the ball landed, thus preventing them from losing their balls. The product slogan was “You'll never be teed off after you teed off.”

D. He designed an airbag to go on wheeled baby walkers, marketed with the tagline “You have ten in your car. Shouldn’t you have at least one for your baby?”

E. He designed a synagogue with individual phone booth sized rooms for each congregant to pray in, under the slogan “You love to daven. You just can’t stand the whiny sound of the Jew in back of you.”

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Halloween in Israel

Halloween is controversial in many segments of the Jewish community. Halloween originated as a pagan festival, and was later adapted by the Catholic Church as All Hallow’s Eve, preceding All Saints Day on November 1. Because of these roots, many Jews do not consider the holiday appropriate to celebrate; however, others view it simply in modern-day terms as an American fun neighborhood celebration with candy, costumes, and parties. Given that history, the holiday is largely unrecognized in Israel, though in recent years there have been some Halloween celebrations–not door-to-door trick-or-treating for children, but among young people who celebrate in nightclubs, bars, and community centers. Which of the following is a real event from Halloween 2019 in Israel?


A. Halloween Costume Party at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv, advertising that “Everyone is dressed to kill or be killed so don’t miss it.”

B. Halloween week at Kuli Alma in Tel Aviv, promoted with the description “Why not squeeze the lemon until it’s a skeleton. Than we hang the skeleton and use it as decoration.”

C. Halloween Costume Party @ The Kerem House in Tel Aviv, a center which typically offers Shabbat meals, lectures, and open mics. According to their advertising for the event, “Halloween is a celebration where little kids dress up and get candy, teens dress up, get drunk, and go get candy, and adults dress up, get drunk, and give out candy, funny how things all work out.”

D. A spooky Halloween Party at the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem. Ads say “Make sure you have a pretty cool costume on because there will be prizes waiting for you. DJ Brother of God will take care of the music.”

E. The Lubavitchers of Bat Yam threw their annual Chabadoween party, noting in the publicity that “Goldenberg Chews will be given out to all. Children can try bobbing for apples, though that is the forbidden fruit and biting it will lead all attendees to be expelled from the party. Awards for the best Yac-Ov’-Lantern.” At the party, there was a tie in the costume contest, with the 300 attendees sharing first place for their identical Rebbe costumes.

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Trump Hotels

In a rare move, President Donald Trump backed down from one of his highly-criticized plans—to hold next year’s G-7 meeting at Trump National Doral, one of his many hotel/resorts world-wide. The plan was seen as a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits government officials from receiving money and gifts from foreign governments. Trump has previously been denounced for maintaining his ownership and/or control over many golf resorts, hotels, and other facilities, all potentially a violation of that clause. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC recently instituted a change to make that property more attractive to Jews. What was that change?

Trump International Hotel, Washington DC

WERK for Consent by Ted Eytan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AThe hotel set up one of its elevators as a Shabbat elevator, which is programmed to stop at every floor, enabling religious Jews to ride up and down on the Sabbath without violating rules about the use of electricity.

BThe hotel added a kosher option to one of its restaurant menus, with prepackaged kosher meals being brought in from an area kosher caterering company, with entree prices ranging from $105-$125.

CThe hotel set aside a small meeting room in its convention center for use by Jews who wish to hold morning and evening minyan services. On Sunday morning, they also provide bagels and lox to those participating in the morning minyan.

DThe hotel replaced the Gideon Bibles in a number of their rooms with copies of the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash. The rooms with the Jewish bible have been designated with a Jewish star on the door.

E. In an effort to be welcoming to their Jewish guests, the hotel’s Benjamin Bar & Lounge added an item to their menu which is listed as “Kosher Snacks” with the description “please inquire, you get to open your own bag!”

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