Weekly Quiz

Shavuot & Dairy

It is traditional to eat dairy products, such as cheesecake and blintzes, on Shavuot. Many reasons have been cited for this custom, including which of the following?

Cheesecake by Susanne Nilsson  is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

AIn the Hebrew tradition of Gematria, where the numerical value of words is considered for interpretation, chalav, meaning milk, has a value of 40, which corresponds with the number of days Moses remained on Mt. Sinai when receiving the Torah.

B. Shavuot is referenced in the Torah portion Pinchas, in Chapter 28, verse 26, which reads “In the day of the first fruits, when ye bring a new meal-offering unto the Lord in your feast of weeks, ye shall have a holy convocation.” In Hebrew, this sentence includes the phrase “Chadasha L'Hashem V’Shavuoteichem.” The first letters of those words–Chet, Lamed, Vetspell chalav, the Hebrew word for milk.

CWhen Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt and through the desert to the Promised Land, the people referred to him as Moshe ha-Yisraeli, ha-Levi, v’ha-melech. In English, this means Moses, the Israelite, the Levite, the King. Because the first letters of these words are M-I-L-K, the custom developed of serving dairy food on Shavuot, commemorating Moses’s journey to the top of Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

DThe connection of dairy foods to Shavuot was actually a marketing creation. Tnuva, the Israeli dairy cooperative, was started in 1926 when kibbutz leaders came together to find ways to work jointly to produce and sell their products. As part of that effort, in the early 1930’s they published recipes for cheesecake and blintzes under the heading “Tnuva, the dairy cooperative from the land flowing with milk and honey, wishes you a Chag Shavuot Sameach.”

E. When baby Moses was rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter, he needed to be fed. Moses refused to suckle from the Egyptian wet nurses that Pharaoh’s daughter hired. Only when the Hebrew slave Yocheved, who was actually Moses’s mother, was chosen for that task, would he nurse. Eating dairy on Shavuot commemorates Moses’s holding out for his own mother’s milk.

Click here for the answer.

The Western Wall

President Trump arrived in Israel today and visited the Western Wall. Controversy has swirled around this visit, as Trump was not accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited the Wall. American diplomat David Berns had said to Israeli officials inquiring about the possibility of Bibi joining Trump, “What are you talking about? It’s none of your business. It’s not even part of your responsibility. It’s not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.” The Western Wall has often been the site of bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, including those of celebrities. Which of the following held their bar or bat mitzvah at the Western Wall?

Western Wall by Chris Yunker is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A. Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera had his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall in 2016, at the age of 42. Lopez-Cantera, whose official bio lists his religion as Catholic, had recently announced that he is in fact Jewish, saying, “My father came from Cuba but he married a nice Jewish girl in Miami.”

B. In an interview following a sketch he did with Andy Samberg on Saturday Night Live, singer Michael Bolton said, “I’ve been kicked out of every class. Andy and I were talking about that. Neither one of us had our Bar Mitzvah because we couldn’t take Hebrew school seriously.” However, when Bolton, age 62, made a trip to Israel in 2015, he spontaneously decided to make a bar mitzvah at the Wall after meeting Rabbi Shmuli Weiss, who helped Bolton don tefillin for the first time.

CSinger Paula Abdul held her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall in 2013, at the age of 51. She was wrapped in a tallit, and the ceremony lasted almost three hours, featuring a lot of klezmer music. Upon her arrival in Israel for the ceremony, she met with then-President Shimon Peres, who told her he was jealous because “he’d already had his bar mitzvah, but that she had not celebrated her bat mitzvah, so she had something to look forward to.”

DActor Jeremy Piven celebrated his bar mitzvah when he was 13, though he says he was not a good student. “It was hard for me to learn Hebrew. I actually had to rap my haftorah portion.” In 2016, Piven celebrated his second bar mitzvah on a balcony overlooking the Western Wall. After the ceremony he sang “Siman tov u’mazal tov” with NBA players Omri Casspi and Amar’e Stoudemire.

EIvanka Trump celebrated her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall at the age of 28, after she converted to Judaism and married Jared Kushner in 2009. After the ceremony, her father was overheard talking to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who is the Rabbi of the Western Wall. Trump reportedly said to the Rabbi, “I’m gonna be in the market for a big wall. Your wall is so bigly huge. What do you think? Could we make a deal?”

Click here for the answer.

G. I. Joe

Stan Weston, a licensing agent who was Jewish, passed away last week. Besides representing such people as Soupy Sales and the Kingston Trio, as well as the Dr. Kildare television show, Weston was the creator of G. I. Joe. Elliott Handler, a founder of Mattel (and also Jewish) taught Weston that “you’ve got to sell them the razor,” referencing the successful Mattel Barbie Doll, whose clothing and accessories were the key to the financial success of the product. With that advice, in 1963 Weston came up with the concept of a toy soldier for boys, including uniforms, weapons, and other paraphernalia, which he pitched to Donald Levine, a Hasbro executive (Levine was also Jewish, as were Herman, Hillel and Henry Hassenfeld, who founded the Hassenfeld Brothers company which became Hasbro). Hasbro bought the concept from Weston for a one-time payment of $100,000 and marketed it as G. I. Joe, one of the most successful products in toy history, selling more than 400,000,000 action figures, as well as being featured in Mavel Comics, television shows, movies, and video games. Which of the following G. I. Joe action figures was Jewish?

by @alexandriapasse "G.I Joe Who remembers this?" via @InstaReposts by Alexandria K Passe is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

A. Sci-Fi was the code name of G. I. Joe Seymour P. Fine, an electrical engineer whose role in numerous G. I. Joe cartoons was the design of advanced weaponry. In one episode, Fine travels to Israel where he works with Shin Bet operatives on the development of a handgun-sized laser weapon which is later used to stop an assault on the White House by members of the enemy Cobra Command. 

B. In a Marvel comic book,  a G. I. Joe named Lance J. Steinberg was on a mission to fight Nazis. He tells the other G. I. Joes on the mission, Roadblock, Recondo, and Dial-Tone, that he is spooked by Nazis, ever since his grandmother freaked out when she saw him watching Hogan’s Heroes with the “funny Nazis.”

CG. I. Joe Doc, whose real name was Isaac Davidson, was a member of the G. I. Joe medical team. Because he was a medic, he was not allowed to carry a weapon, in order to comply with the Geneva Convention. In one episode, he saved three other G. I. Joes by throwing a well-aimed snowball. In another, he convinced military authorities fighting against a Cobra operation in the Gulf of Mexico to use conventional, rather than nuclear weapons.

DA G. I. Joe known as Clutch was an infantry figure with a specialty in transportation. In one G. I. Joe Marvel Comics adventure, he and two other G. I. Joe characters are sent to track down a Nazi war criminal who is hiding in Brazil, where they meet up with an Israeli Mossad team on the same mission.

EG. I. Joe was prepared for release in Israel, with such characters as Uzi Ari, Samson, David Ha-Gadol, and Moshe D, a one-eyed soldier. The characters were produced and packaged under the name Tzahal Joe (Tzahal being the Hebrew acronym for Israel Defense Forces) and had been shipped to stores for sale. However, in an interview on Israeli television, the head of marketing who was promoting the new toys inadvertently referred to the product line by the code name that had been used internally–G. I. Shmo–and the resulting outcry led the product to be pulled from the shelves.

Click here for the answer.

Judah P. Benjamin

New Orleans is in the process of removing four memorials that are tied to the Civil War and the city’s past connections to slavery, including a statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. This follows other southern city and state actions, such as the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse in 2015. One of the key figures of the Confederacy was Judah P. Benjamin, a Sephardic Jew who served as a Louisiana senator before serving in President Davis’ cabinet, first as Attorney General, and later as Secretary of War and Secretary of State. Which of the following is true about Judah P. Benjamin?

twcw_jpbenjaminis in the public domain.

A. Judah P. Benjamin has been dubbed “the brains of the Confederacy,” “the Little Jew from New Orleans,” “the dapper Jew,” and the “Confederate Kissinger.”

B. In 1860, while still representing Louisiana, Benjamin addressed the United States Senate in defense of the right of Southern states to secede, concluding his remarks saying “An enslaved and servile race you can never make of us—never! never!” Senator Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio responded, criticizing Senator Benjamin for his pro-slavery speech, referring to Benjamin as “an Israelite with Egyptian principles.”

C. At age 14, Benjamin entered Yale University; however, he did not graduate as he was expelled for “ungentlemanly conduct.” It’s not known what his misdeeds were, though there were rumors of gambling, carousing, or theft.

D. Benjamin’s bris was performed by his paternal grandfather, after whom he was named.

E. The Temptations Gentleman’s Club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans received numerous requests for tours from attendees at the 2010 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly meeting in that city. The Assembly delegates said they were interested in the “Jewish aspect” of the building, telling the proprietor that it had been the home of Judah P. Benjamin.

Click here for the answer.

AContact Us                                                              © MMJZ Services, Inc. 2013-2017