Weekly Quiz

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is in the news for her endorsement of Donald Trump for president. What member of her family has a name which is of Jewish origin?

Sarah Palin” by David Shankbone is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AHer daughter Willow, who was born on Sukkot and is named after the willow branch that is part of the lulav. Palin chose the name willow (rather than myrtle or palm, the other parts of the lulav) because it is a symbol for lips, as Palin kissed her daughter when she was born.

B. Her dog, Jill Hadassah, named for Palin’s college roommate Jill and the Biblical Hadassah.

C. Sarah Palin herself, as her birth name was Sally Palin. In high school Palin became very active in her church Bible studies group, and she decided to change her name to Sarah. Palin wrote in her high school yearbook, “God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, and now he has changed my name from Sally to Sarah.”

DHer oldest son Track, because he was conceived underneath the bleachers at the Juneau Jewish Day School running track.

EHer rifle, which she has stated is a member of her family just like Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. She calls the rifle, which she named after the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Gun.

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Sweden

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has aroused controversy by her critical remarks concerning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. There have been Jews in Sweden for many years. What is perhaps the first record of a Jewish presence in Sweden?

AJews were well established throughout much of Europe by the Middle Ages; however, there are no records of Jews anywhere in Scandinavia until the late 1700’s. In 1789, Mayer Moses Rothschild, a member of the prominent banking family, moved from Frankfurt to Stockholm to open a branch of the M. Rothschild & Sons Bank and establish a relationship with King Adolf Frederick and the Swedish royal family.

B. The first identified Jews in Sweden were the Vikings Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson. Erik was known as “The Red,” referencing a red heart, a symbol of his compassionate leadership of the Viking communities. His son Leif was actually named Lev, the Hebrew word for heart, but the name has been anglicized to Leif.

C. It was not unusual for Jews to serve as court physicians in the royal houses of Europe during the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries) and Early Modern Period (15th-18th centuries). An October 1557 letter makes a reference to the Jewish doctor of Sweden’s King Gustav Vasa.

DThere are some theories that the Vikings of Scandinavia were actually descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. While there is not a lot of hard evidence, there is a record of a stone found in the area of modern day Malmö, which contained Hebrew letters, and is believed to be from a grave site. In 2003, researchers from Tel Aviv University began a DNA study in conjunction with the University of Gothenburg to see if  so-called “Ashkenazic genes might be found in the Swedish population, but results have so far been inconclusive.

E. The first record of Jews in Sweden was Waterloo, released by ABBA in 1974 after winning that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The band, consisting of four members–Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog, and Björn Ulvaeus–got its name when Bennys 2-year-old son Ari came into the room while the band was rehearsing, and called out to him, “Abba, Abba.” The other band members were not familiar with the Hebrew word for father, but liked the sound of it.

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David Bowie, RIP

What is David Bowie’s Jewish connection?

Aladdin Sane [Belgian]” by Marc Wathieu is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ABowie performed at a concert at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv in 1990, during the time of the first Intifada. During the performance, he altered the lyrics of his song, Space Oddity, singing, "Ground Control, we need Salaam. Ground Control, we need Salaam. Love your neighbor and may God bring you Shalom.”

B. In his song, Station to Station, Bowie sings, “Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth.” The lyrics reflect Bowie’s interest in Kabbalah, with Kether, the crown, representing the divine light, and Malkhuth, kingship, representing the nurturing receptacle of that light.

C. Bowie starred in the 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, about an extraterrestrial (Bowie) who lands on Earth while on a mission to bring water back to his planet, which is suffering from a destructive drought. The movie, written by Paul Mayersberg, was loosely based on the true story of an Israeli spy who was sent by Ben Gurion to Moscow in 1951. The spy, a trained chemist, infiltrated the D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia in order to steal Russian desalination technology. This information was critical to Israel’s survival, where a lack of fresh water was as great a threat to the fledgling state as was the military threat from its Arab neighbors.

D. Bowie, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post when he toured in Israel in 1996, explained that his song Space Oddity was based on his interest in Kabbalah. Said Bowie, “When Major Tom leaves the space capsule and floats away in space, it is for me a representation of the Kabbalistic teaching about the relationship between the Ein Sof, the mysterious infinity, and the finite world which God created. By separating from his earthly tin can, Major Tom is seeking to connect to the eternal God of the universe.”

E. David Bowie was Jewish, and his birth name was David Borowitz. At his bar mitzvah party in 1960, he sang a song, which later morphed into his greatest hit, Space Oddity. The lyrics he sang that day were “Ground Control to Rabbi Baum. Ground Control to Rabbi Baum. Take your prayer book and put your kippah on. Ground Control to Rabbi Baum. Commencing Torah, tallis on. Kiss your tzitzit and may God’s love be with you.”

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Kosher Marijuana

The Orthodox Union has given kosher certification to a medical marijuana product produced by Verio Health of New York. In regard to this, Rabbi David Bleich, a Yeshiva University professor and authority on Jewish medical ethics, did NOT make which of the following statements?

Medical marijuana

White Widow” is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AHe said that medicinal marijuana is “a perfectly acceptable use of a plant that grows in God’s garden.”

BHe said that he can’t tell you the 614th mitzvah is thou shalt not smoke pot.”

CHe said that once it [marijuana] is in a cookie, it is no different from any other cookie and a cookie needs certification.”

DHe said that recreational use of marijuana is “pleasure for pleasure’s sake,” and “certainly not that to which a Jew should aspire.”

EHe said that use of medical marijuana on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur would be “a double mitzvah, as these days are known as the High Holidays.”

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