Weekly Quiz

LeBron

Why did Israeli sports journalist Sharon Davidovitch say “LeBron James is now the most hated person in Israel. It’s a little bit joking and a little bit true: These days I can only compare the Israeli hate for LeBron James to the hate for Hamas.”

LeBron James by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AHe wrote this in 2001, when James was a junior at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in Cleveland. LeBron’s team played against the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in the annual parochial school basketball tournament. James scored the winning basket as time ran out, making St. Vincent-St. Mary the citywide champion, leaving Hebrew Academy to receive the runner-up trophy.

B. He said this in January, 2016, when the Cleveland Cavaliers fired their Jewish head coach, David Blatt, who was formerly the coach of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. Many Israelis (and others) believe that LeBron James was instrumental in Blatt’s dismissal.

CHe said this in 2014, when James criticized Israel during the Gaza war known as Operation Protective Edge. James issued his statement after an Israeli bomb killed Palestinians who were watching the World Cup in a Gaza cafe.

D. He said this right after the Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship, beating the Golden State Warriors, who are hugely loved in Israel. The Warriors, founded in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors, were first coached by Eddie Gottlieb, a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine. Gottlieb’s first Jewish involvement in basketball was at age 19 in 1917, when he organized a Jewish men’s basketball team at the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in Philadelphia. This Jewish connection has made the Warriors the most popular NBA team in Israel since its founding, thus leading to the antipathy for LeBron James in this championship series.

E. He said this after a visit to Israel by James in 2014. The trip, sponsored by the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, included a prayer service at the Western Wall. The women on the mission intended to hold their own Torah reading on their side of the wall along with the Israeli Women of the Wall organization. However, the woman who was carrying a Torah scroll to place on a table for reading was detained and the Torah scroll seized by the religious authorities who oversee the area. In anticipation of this possibility, the men also had a Torah scroll, which James was able to hand over to the women, despite the 8-foot divider between the two sides, which was no barrier to the 6’8” superstar with an 8’10.25” standing reach, thus enabling the women to hold their service.

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Fiddler On The Roof

Fiddler on the Roof was one of the nominees, though not the winner, of the Best Revival of a Musical category at this year’s Tony Awards ceremony. When Fiddler on the Roof was first being developed, the opening song, Tradition, was the last to be written. What song that originally opened the show was replaced by Tradition?

Norland Scarecrow Festival - Fiddler on the Roof I by Tim Green is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AA Butcher’s Soul, with lyrics including “You say a butcher has no soul, it cuts me to the bone./You tell me if you please how many butchers have you known./What gave you the idea that a man who makes his living handling liver, lungs and kidneys has no heart./A butcher has his feelings, he is not a piece of meat./A man is not a chicken, you should hang him by his feet.”

BA Blessing for the Tsar, with lyrics including “A blessing for the Tsar, a blessing on his head./A blessing for the Tsar, we wish that he were dead.”

CI’m Going to Make Anatevka Great Again, with lyrics including “I’ll build us a wall to keep Russians away./And, oh, hey, did I mention, I’ll make the Tsar pay?/I’ll make Anatevka great again./And the Tsar, I have heard, may not even be Russian./Where’s his birth certificate, let’s start that discussion./I’ll make Anatevka great again.”

DLetters From America, with lyrics including “Here in Anatevka, 90 percent are behind in the rent and we’re hungry to a man./Once a Rothschild saw our town, crossed himself and ran.”

EWe’ve Never Missed a Sabbath Yet, with lyrics including “Somehow the house will be clean, floors will be swept, soup will be cooked, beef will be boiled./Oh, there’s noodles to make and chicken to be plucked and liver to be chopped and challah to be baked./A race with the sun, so at the proper time the candles can be lit and blessed.”

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Muhammad Ali, RIP

The world is mourning the passing of boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Some years ago, Ali made an appearance at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. What was the reason for his visit?

Muhammad Ali-1 by Aymen Tanazefti is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

AHe was in attendance at the aufruf of his daughter Khaliah in 1997, prior to her marriage to Spencer Wertheimer.

B. He attended the funeral of Howard Cosell in 1995. Ali spoke at the ceremony, saying, “I am the world’s greatest boxer, but Howard Cosell was the world’s greater promoter of boxing. Shalom, Howard.”

C. He was in attendance at his grandson Jacob’s bar mitzvah in 2012.

D. In 2013, Ali was the honorary referee at a charity boxing match at the synagogue, pitting Israeli World Boxing Association welterweight champion Yuri Foreman against New Jersey boxer Dustin “The White Tiger” Fleischer, who wears the Chai once owned by his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.

E. Ali was born a Baptist, and later converted to Islam. But in 2010 he converted once again, to Judaism, in a ceremony at Rodeph Shalom. Said Ali at the time, “I changed my name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali because Cassius Clay was a slave name. But now I am changing my name to Moses Ali-yah. Moses was also a slave, but he became free and made Ali-yah to Israel, so I am honoring him. Now let’s go to the kiddush and get lunch. I hear it floats like a matzah ball and stinks like a kishke.”

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