Weekly Quiz

Tax Reform

Last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed a major tax reform bill, over the objection of Democrats who say that the bill will primarily benefit the wealthy. Many in the Jewish community weighed in on various aspects of the tax plan. Which of the following comments regarding the new tax proposals came from within the Jewish community?

IRS 1040 Tax Form Being Filled Out by Ken Teegardin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A. Rabbi Joseph Epstein of Agudath Israel of America spoke of the repeal of the qualified tuition credit which currently benefits private schools, including day schools, by enabling them to provide tax-free tuition assistance to faculty. Said Rabbi Epstein, “This credit enables us to hire quality instructors who would otherwise not be able to afford tuition for their own children. Our teachers benefit, our students benefit, our entire community benefits. Why would a Congress that is supportive of educational choice repeal such an important rule?”

B. Jerry Silverman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federations of North America, spoke on a conference call to the leadership of Jewish Federations across the country and urged leaders to contact their legislators in opposition to the increase in the standard deduction. He explained, “The increase from $6000 to $12000 will lead to an unintended consequence, which is that fewer taxpayers will be itemizing their deductions under this plan. And therefore, they will get no tax benefit for charitable donations. This is likely to lead to a drop in contributions, which could hurt our organizations greatly. We must do whatever we can to educate Congress about this situation.”

C. The tax bill includes a provision which expands the use of 529 savings accounts, which are presently a vehicle for funding college education. Going forward, these accounts will be available for use in paying for K-12 private school tuition. Said Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz, National Director of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, “We thank Congress and President Trump for being responsive to the needs of our families. There is nothing more important to our families than an education based on Jewish values, and we are grateful to the administration for supporting our efforts.”

D. Pastor John Hagee, evangelical advisor to Donald Trump and Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein, representing the rabbinic organization Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America, joined together to successfully lobby Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch to add a provision to the tax plan which would repeal the prohibition against clergy endorsing political candidates. Said Rabbi Adlerstein, “What makes America great is the freedom that is given to people of all religions, as guaranteed by the Constitution. It makes no sense to limit that freedom and make it harder for people of faith to participate in the American electoral process.” The provision, however, was ultimately eliminated when the Senate parliamentarian ruled that this provision violated Senate rules.

E. The loss of the state and property tax deductions will likely lead to an increase in taxes for residents of high tax states such as New York, California, and New Jersey. Said the owner of Eppes Essen, a Jewish deli in New Jersey, with concern that his tax bill will go up, “Raise my taxes, I raise your challah.”

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Chanukkah Pet Gifts

According to the Talmud, we are commanded to feed our animals before we feed ourselves. It doesn’t say anything about giving gifts to our pets before giving presents to our human family members, but many Jews include their pets in the Chanukkah gift giving. Which of the following are real Chanukkah pet toys?

Night 1 “Chag Sameach!” by Michelle oshen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A. Dog Kippah and Tallis (sold separately) and Kiss Me, I’m Chewish! T-shirt.

BSchnoz the Anteater Chew Toy and Mohel Scissors Chew Toy.

CMenorah Dog Hat and Jewish Star Pet Bow Tie.

DLlamalka in a Yarmulke Dog Chew Toy and Schmaltz the Chicken Chew Toy.

EMechitza Dog Gate and Shtreimel Frisbee.

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Chanukkah Elf on a Shelf

Children who are celebrating Christmas have the Elf on a Shelf children’s book and toy to enjoy during the holiday season. What are two Chanukkah toys which were created by children’s authors inspired by Elf on a Shelf?

2012 Elf on the Shelf - Snowy by Mark Baylor is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A. The Latke on the Yacht-ke Toy Boat and the Señora Menorah Torah.

BThe Gelt Giving Golem and the Mensch on a Bench.

CThe I Have a Little Bagel Dreidle and the Deck the Halls with Boughs of Challah Easy-Bake Oven.

DThe Gelt on the Tuna Melt and the Yid on the Squid.

E. The Tickle Me Maccabee Doll and the Nightmare on Chelm Street Action Figures.

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