Weekly Quiz

Ice Bucket Challenge

Why did the U. S. State Department bar ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro from participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

A. He was planning to participate in an Ice Bucket Challenge event that was scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv on September 11, which the State Department deemed to be an inappropriate date.

B. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel was requiring all participants to recite the "Netilat Yadayim" (hand washing) prayer before participating. The State Department's rules do not allow employees to participate in religious rituals.

C. The State Department did not want its ambassador to be taking part in an event that might be perceived as frivolous at the same time that difficult negotiations are taking place between the Israeli and American governments over the Gaza crisis.

D. State Department rules forbid employees from public involvement with charities, to avoid any show of favoritism.

E. The State Department has rules forbidding its employees from participating in events deemed to be "inappropriate, lewd, or indecent." As a result, they ruled that participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge was forbidden as it is a form of a wet T-shirt contest.

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Where Y’at, New Orleans

Shout out to the New Orleans Crescent City Jewish News, now carrying the RASHI, RAMBAM and RAMALAMADINGDONG weekly quiz on their website.

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In 1961, American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell organized a "hate ride" to New Orleans in a bus emblazoned with signs reading "Lincoln Rockwell's Hate Bus," "We Do Hate Race Mixing," and "We Hate Jew-Communism." What local event were they protesting?

New Orleans Mardi Gras balcony

A. The New Orleans premier of the movie Exodus.

B. The appearance of Louis Armstrong at a concert held at Temple Sinai, the first time in New Orleans that a black entertainer performed in front of a mixed black and white audience in a public venue.

C. The decision by the Mardi Gras Krewe of Rex to admit a Jewish member.

DThe support of the desegregation of the New Orleans public schools by the local Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League.

E. The decision by Café Du Monde to obtain kosher certification for its beignets.

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When the Sanhedrin (the “Torah court” of ancient Israel) determined that the new moon had been sighted, marking the beginning of a new month, they spread the word through the building of a series of hilltop bonfires which could be seen by others further from Jerusalem. Why did they discontinue this system and instead begin using dispatched messengers?


A. After Constantine the Great, leader of the Roman Empire, converted to Christianity, the Sanhedrin determined that a public announcement of the new month via bonfires would draw undue attention to the Jews, leading to a possible effort by Constantine to convert them. Therefore, they discontinued the bonfires and began using messengers.

B. One of the bonfires spread out of control and destroyed the town of Shiloh, leading to the Sanhedrin's ban on bonfires.

C. As a result of climate change, the normally desert-like climate of ancient Israel became very humid and rainy. Torrential downpours were frequently preventing the building of bonfires, thus causing the Sanhedrin to make the change to dispatched messengers. (The Sadducess, who were climate-change deniers, continued to build bonfires despite the fact that they were regularly extinguished by monsoon-like rains).

D. This was an example of the difference between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. Shammai said that fires should be lit as a reference to G-d's announcement of the creation of the universe, "Vayehi Or (Let there be light)." Hillel said that messengers should be sent, as a symbol of the angels that G-d sent as messengers to the Patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, and other Biblical figures. As was generally the case, the opinion of Hillel took precedence.

E. The Sadducees, who did not recognize the rabbinic authority of the Sanhedrin, began setting bogus bonfires on the wrong date to manipulate the calendar.

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The Congressional Dillingham Commission, which operated between 1907 and 1911, impacted Jewish immigrants to America in what way?

A. Until the turn of the 20th century, United States senators were elected by state legislatures. Based on the recommendation of the Dillingham Commission, the Seventeenth Amendment to the constitution was proposed, and eventually ratified in 1913, bringing about direct election of senators by popular vote. This benefited the Jews because no state legislature had ever elected a Jewish senator, but with a popular vote rather than one dependent upon bargaining and politicking in state legislatures, the first Jewish senator, Isidor Rayner, an immigrant from Lodz, Poland, was elected from the state of Maryland in 1914.

B. The Dillingham Commission was created to study how to better integrate the huge influx of eastern European immigrants, including Jews, into the United States military. Among their findings was a need to provide kosher food for Jewish soldiers, resulting in an arrangement with the National Jewish Welfare Board to provide this food, as well as matzah at Passover time, and kiddush wine on Friday nights.

C. Studying immigration issues, the Commission concluded that the huge number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe (including millions of Jews) was a serious threat to American society. This led to increasing restrictions on the number of immigrants, and eventually an almost total closure of the borders to Jewish and other immigration through the Emergency Immigration Act and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, followed by the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924.

D. As modern refrigeration methods had not yet been invented, the Dillingham Commission studied safety in the food industry, and in particular the new “Dillingham” process of pickling pig meat in order to preserve it. With the approval of this method of preserving ham, pork and other pig products, many poor immigrant Jews chose to abandon the rules of kashrut at a time when kosher meat was expensive and difficult to store safely.

E. Huge numbers of Jewish children were fleeing pogroms in Europe by stowing away on ships sailing to America. To prevent the influx of these illegal immigrants, the Dillingham Commission recommended the construction of a border fence around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to prevent these illegal aliens from entering America and taking jobs from American citizens.

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