Weekly Quiz

Mary Tyler Moore, RIP

Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away last week, had a number of connections to the Jewish world, both in her real life (her husband Robert Levine is Jewish) and her performing life (an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show entitled “Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda” grappled with the issue of anti-Semtism when Mary made a new friend who turned out to dislike Jews). Which of the following is another example of Mary’s Jewish connections?

Mary Tyler Moore (test picture) by Dave Winer  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AAs a young child, Mary was one of only two Catholic families living in the overwhelmingly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Ocean Parkway in Flatbush. On the day of her first Communion, as she walked outside wearing her bridelike veil from the ceremony, she was teased by someone who said, “Well, so are you married to God now?” To which she replied, “No, stupid. How come you can’t touch money sometimes? And what’s the big deal about sundown?”

B. Mary, who was just starting out in her career, originally auditioned for the minor part of Buddy Sorrell’s wife “Pickles” on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The producer, Carl Reiner, liked her but decided that her little button nose would not make her believable as this Jewish housewife. However, after failing to find an actress to play Rob’s wife Laura, Reiner remembered Moore and brought her back in for what became her breakthrough role as Laura Petrie.

C. Mary Tyler Moore was involved in a number of charities, including serving as the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and being a co-founder, along with Bernadette Peters, of Broadway Barks, which sponsors an annual adopt-a-pet event in New York’s theater district. She also joined the Board of Overseers of Hadassah Hospital, a fundraising and advisory group, after becoming connected to the hospital through her mother-in-law, Marion Levine, who was president of her Haddasah chapter on Long Island.

D. One of the most popular secondary characters on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was Chuckles the Clown. The episode entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust” featured the passing of Chuckles when he marched in a circus parade as Peter Peanut. As Ted Baxter described it, a rogue elephant tried to “shell” him, causing his death. Moore’s portrayal of Mary Richards during Chuckles’s funeral is considered one of her best performances. Originally the writers intended to reveal Chuckles as Jewish at his funeral, led by a rabbi. However, the Anti-Defamation League objected to the script and the portrayal of the rabbi reciting the lines “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” As a result, the script was rewritten to feature a pastor of unidentified religious affiliation.

E. One of Mary Tyler Moore’s first appearances on a sitcom was on The Goldbergs, starring Gertrude Berg as Molly Goldberg, the matriarch of a Jewish family who moved to suburban Connecticut from the Bronx. Mary auditioned for the role of Anna, Molly’s granddaughter. At the audition, Mary wore a Jewish star around her neck, and she told the director about her own Bubbie Esther, who she said was just like Molly Goldberg. Mary got the role, and the director later told her that she could invite her Bubbie to a taping. She admitted to the director that she wasn’t actually Jewish and that she had made up the story to help her get the part. Said the director, “You know what, you’ve got chutzpah!” As Mary demurely smiled, the director yelled, “I HATE chutzpah!”

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Jews and the Inauguration

There was controversy at the inauguration of Donald Trump over the decision of Rabbi Marvin Hier to offer an invocation. Some felt that Rabbi Hier, the Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance, should not participate, given Trump’s many remarks degrading minorities, Muslims, immigrants, women, and others (not to mention his support from, and refusal to disavow, alt-right, KKK, and other racist groups and individuals). The first Jew to participate in a presidential inauguration (at the 1789 inauguration of George Washington) was Gershom Mendes Seixas, spiritual leader of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel, the first congregation established in the United States. Seixas, a self-trained hazzan (cantor), shochet (kosher slaughterer) and mohel (ritual circumciser), but not an ordained rabbi, is nonetheless known as the Patriot Rabbi of the Revolution. Which of the following is also true of Gershom Seixas?

Congregation Shearith Israel by Eden, Janine and Jim  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ASeixas came from a distinguished family that included his brother Moses, founder of the Bank of Rhode Island and president of Touro Synagogue in Newport; his brother Abraham, a Captain in the South Carolina militia during the Revolution; his brother Benjamin, who was a founder of the New York stock exchange; and a descendent, Benjamin Cardozo, who served as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

BBecause he was a self-taught spiritual leader, Seixas had difficulty with Hebrew. The leaders of his congregation, Shearith Israel, fined him 5 shillings for each error he committed while chanting the Torah at Shabbat services, with a goal of spurring him to improve his language skills.

CAs the first prominent clergy to lead a synagogue in the United States, Seixas set the tone for rabbinical leadership in this country in many ways, including through his adoption of the black pulpit robe and clerical collar that was commonplace within the Christian ministry, but later became the norm for American rabbis.

D. Shortly after he became the “minister” of Shearith Israel in New York City, Seixas was asked to perform a wedding in Lancaster for the Gratz family, a prominent Jewish family in Pennsylvania. Seixas’s father Isaac, concerned that his young son might not be up to this task, sent along a letter to the bride’s father, reading, “Permit me Sir to recommend my son to your particular notice. He has never been so far from home, and if you find anything amiss in his behavior, impute it favourably to his want of experience, and kindly admonish him for it.”

E. His connection to George Washington began when Washington’s daughter, Ivanka Washington, married Gershom Seixas and converted to Judaism. Seixas not only participated in the inauguration of his father-in-law, but he joined the Washington administration as a senior adviser, in particular focusing on helping the Jews of Palestine who were suffering under the rule of the Ottoman empire. Regarding that issue, Washington said, “Ya know what, Gershom is such a good kid and he’ll make a deal with Palestine and the Ottomans that no one else can — ya know he’s a natural deal-maker — everyone likes him.”

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it will be going out of business this year, with a final performance on Long Island on May 21. For many years the circus held special performances for the Orthodox community of New York during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. At these performances, the circus made a number of accommodations to the Orthodox audience, including serving kosher food and even providing brand-new chometz-free cotton candy machines during Passover. What other accommodation was made by the circus?

16797148480_c6c36a036e_o by Dustin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AAlex and Irina’s trained poodles performed their act in long skirts instead of their usual ballet tutus.

BHans & Mariya Kloses Mixed Animal Act includes a variety of animals that jump rope, dance, play piano and leap through hoops. For these performances, the dogs, llamas, goats and kangaroos went on, but the pigs were left out of the show.

CCrazy Wilson Dominguez, who normally crosses himself before walking on the whirling Pendulum of Pandemonium, was asked to perform this religious ritual in private instead of in front of the audience.

DFemale performers, including Intergalactic Queen Tatiana, members of the Double-Wide Flying Trapeze team, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Acrobatic Troupe, who usually wear tight fitting uniforms or leotards instead wore long sleeved tops and ankle length skirts.

EGemma Kirby, who performs as the Human Cannonball and is blasted out of a cannon and into a net 100 feet away, was introduced to the Orthodox audience as the Human Matzahball.

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Computer Hacking

Computer hacking was a major topic of the news in 2016, and will surely continue to be in 2017. Recently, Israeli scientists at Ben-Gurion University announced that their research and experimentation was successful in creating a particular type of hacking that could impact cyber security. What did they accomplish?

Crackers by elhombredenegro is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AThe scientists created code that theyve named “Nanny Cam Flip,” which enables nannies (or anyone utilizing the software) to gain control of your nanny cam, allowing them to secretly turn on the camera when you are home, so that the hacker can spy on you rather than the reverse.

BThey created a code that they call Stuxnet-Shtayim (Stuxnet-2), named after the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iranian centrifuges in 2009 and 2010, and was supposedly implemented by Israel. According to the Israeli scientists, Stuxnet-Shtayim is not designed to attack Iran’s nuclear industry computers as did Stuxnet, but rather to reside quietly outside of Irans computers, where it will monitor all communication and activity related to the restrictions which Iran accepted as part of their recent nuclear deal. Israel publicly announced this so that Iran would be aware that if they try to secretly violate the agreement in any way, Israel will know and will take whatever action it deems necessary.

CThey created code that theyve dubbed “I-Watch-U” which enables hackers to turn your Apple Watch into a spy camera, secretly recording whatever activity is going on around you without your knowledge, and transmitting that information to the hacker.

DThey created code that theyve dubbed “Speake(a)r” which enables hackers to surreptitiously turn your earbuds or headphones into microphones, secretly transmitting everything you say to the hacker whos listening in.

EThey created code that theyve dubbed "Shabbatcha-Gotcha," which they are marketing to Orthodox rabbis. The code, when activated, monitors the flow of electricity into the household where its secretly installed, enabling rabbis to see if their constituents are using electricity on the Sabbath in violation of Jewish law. For an additional fee, a second code can be installed which the researchers are calling “Not Fast Enough.” This software can specifically identify if the refrigerator light goes on, enabling the rabbis to determine if their constituents are eating on Yom Kippur or other fast days.

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