For many of you this will sound like the beginning of a bar joke ("A bar atmosphere walked up to a rabbi for a change, and..."), but it isn't. I'll try to make up for the lack of a punchline here at the end of the post. Congregation Anshe Chesed in Linden, New Jersey, an Orthodox synagogue, brought me up to host a quiz for the general membership on Saturday night. What's more I even did Judaism for the Subject Round, and I'm going to hold off on printing those questions here so that I can stick it to those of you I know are Jewish in person through the next couple of weeks.
Finklegotbaers, a team charmingly named in conjunction with nervous system disorder, beat all competitors and are now in a very official fashion the smartest volk in the shul. All intramural problems should now be solved with that in mind.
Should anyone doubt the record:
Beautiful Gold: Finklegotbaers 150
So-So Silver: Humble Superior Beings 141
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Harvard College Drop-Outs 115 (OT)
New Jersey New Yorkers 114 (OT)
Dan & The Golden Oldies 108
Before launching into usage of a multiple-thousand-year-old religious tradition to do some schtick, allow me to say I had a great time and that everyone was welcoming and friendly as can be. If all of my bar games were as delightful life would be that much easier. This was my first quiz for any religious congregation, although people do frequently yell something or other about Christ at a high percentage of my contests. Allow me to share some of the things I learned in doing research for this quiz.
Ten Little-Known Facts About Judaism:
1) The Torah does not have a Glossary, rendering reading it extremely difficult if you don't know Hebrew.
2) Abraham Lincoln, despite the name and beard, was not Jewish. Who knew?!
3) Judaism is an ancient religion, pre-dating even Billy Graham.
4) If Spongebob Squarepants and his pals were real, Jewish dietary law would forbid consuming them.
5) Despite the widespread belief that Jews are born with horns, in actuality most take up an instrument later in life, if at all, and frequently woodwinds or even strings.
6) Famous Jewish-Americans include Woody Allen, Winona Ryder, Jerry Seinfeld ... and, to be completely fair... Pauly Shore, Larry King and Senator Joe Lieberman.
7) Celebration of Christmas isn't at all theological in nature. It is related to shorter lines at movie theaters.
8) Although Hebrew is written right to left, Israeli baseball teams still run bases counterclockwise. This is known in linguistics as the Hank Greenberg Paradox.
9) Most of the world's largest industrial banks are now located in Japan, rendering explaining Jewish control of the world's banking systems significantly more difficult at John Birch Society meetings these days than it ever used to be.
10) Orthodox Judaism has no specific prohibition against trivia competitions. Drunken multi-state armed robbery sprees, however, are still out.