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Quiz about The American Jewish Community
Quiz about The American Jewish Community

The American Jewish Community Trivia Quiz


Here's a chance to learn something about the history of the Jewish community in the United States.

A multiple-choice quiz by janetgool. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
janetgool
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
291,855
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
5 / 10
Plays
2949
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Guest 47 (3/10), dmaxst (5/10), Guest 12 (3/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. According to most historians, who was the first Jew to set foot in the New World?
Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. The first synagogue built in North America was built in New Amsterdam. What brought this small group of Jews to this city? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Who assured the Jewish community of the United States that ".. the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance", thus confirming the tolerant attitude of the American government? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Jewish women benefited from the freedom and education available in the United States, and were active in a wide variety of fields. Which woman of Sephardic descent wrote the famous words "Give me your tired, your sick, your wretched masses yearning to breathe free, I lift my lamp beside the golden door" which appear on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Jewish settlers in the United States often made a living as peddlers throughout the South, the Midwest and later the West Coast. One of these peddlers created an iconic American product. What was it? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. The first acknowledged Jewish senator in the United States also served as Secretary of War of the Confederacy. Who was this man? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Who was the first Jewish judge to serve on the US Supreme Court? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. What historical incident led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. The last great wave of Jewish settlers to the United States came from Eastern Europe, primarily Russia. One of the most important people in the early days of Eastern European immigration was Abraham Cahan. Who was he? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. What is unique about these four Jewish Americans - Judith Resnick, Scott Horowitz, Jeffrey Hoffman and David Wolf? Hint



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Most Recent Scores
Apr 17 2024 : Guest 47: 3/10
Apr 15 2024 : dmaxst: 5/10
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Score Distribution

quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. According to most historians, who was the first Jew to set foot in the New World?

Answer: Christopher Columbus' interpreter

The proximity of Columbus' voyage of discovery to the Expulsion from Spain has given rise to speculation that some of Columbus' crew, or even Columbus himself, were Jews fleeing the Inquisition. There is no serious historical evidence that Columbus was Jewish, but it is certain that his interpreter, Luis de Torres, was. Torres, born Yosef Halevy, was an unwilling convert to Catholicism just prior to his voyage. De Torres spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, and was one of the first crew members to go ashore when Columbus' ships landed at Hispaniola. De Torres was probably the first European to see tobacco. De Torres stayed on Hispaniola with a small group of explorers, who disappeared in 1493.
2. The first synagogue built in North America was built in New Amsterdam. What brought this small group of Jews to this city?

Answer: They arrived accidentally, after being rescued from pirates

Stephen Birmingham, in his book "The Grandees", describes the tortuous route that brought the first 23 Jewish settlers to New Amsterdam. They were the decedents of Sephardic Jews who had escaped the Inquisition and settled in Brazil. Following a respite from persecution while the Dutch ruled Brazil, they were eventually forced to leave Brazil.

In 1654, sixteen ships carrying Protestant and Jewish refugees left Brazil for Holland. However, one of the ships was blown off-course and fell prey to pirates.

The pirate ship was eventually rescued by a French ship called the "Saint Charles", captained by de la Mothe, who sailed to New Amsterdam. The small community, consisting of about six households, established the first organized Jewish community in what was to become the United States. For more information about the Sephardic community in the United States, I recommend Birmingham's very interesting book.
3. Who assured the Jewish community of the United States that ".. the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance", thus confirming the tolerant attitude of the American government?

Answer: George Washington

In 1790, George Washington made a tour of the United States, including the city of Newport, Rhode Island. The officers of the synagogue in Newport sent a letter of congratulations to Washington, offering him the good wishes of the Jewish community, and its appreciation of the freedom and tolerance found in the United States.

The letter contained the phrase quoted above, and Washington repeated it in his letter of thanks to the synagogue officers.
4. Jewish women benefited from the freedom and education available in the United States, and were active in a wide variety of fields. Which woman of Sephardic descent wrote the famous words "Give me your tired, your sick, your wretched masses yearning to breathe free, I lift my lamp beside the golden door" which appear on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor?

Answer: Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus was born in 1849 in New York City and received a well-rounded education. At the age of seventeen she published her first book of poetry. She met America's most famous man of letters of that era, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and continued to correspond with him for many years. She wrote her most famous poem, 'The Great Colossus' in 1883. Emma Lazarus died in 1887.

The wrong answers: Lillian Wald founded the Visiting Nurses Association, Henrietta Szold founded Hadassah, and Rebecca Graetz was a philanthropist and the founder of Jewish Sunday schools in America.
5. Jewish settlers in the United States often made a living as peddlers throughout the South, the Midwest and later the West Coast. One of these peddlers created an iconic American product. What was it?

Answer: Blue jeans

Levi Strauss was born in 1829 in Germany and immigrated to the United States, where he worked for a while on his uncle's ranch in Kentucky. He arrived in California following the Gold Rush, with a supply of sturdy canvas for building tents and repairing the covers of Conestoga wagons.

After hearing complaints from gold miners about the wear and tear on their trousers, Strauss decided to make a sturdy garment from canvas, and reinforced the pockets with copper rivets. Strauss eventually switched to the fabric we know today as denim, and obtained a patent for the pocket rivets.

He died in 1902 and left his company to his nephews.
6. The first acknowledged Jewish senator in the United States also served as Secretary of War of the Confederacy. Who was this man?

Answer: Judah P. Benjamin

Judah P. Benjamin was born in 1811 in the British West Indies and grew up in Charleston and New Orleans. He attended Yale University Law School. He was elected to the United States Senate, where he first met Jefferson Davis. When the Southern states seceded from the Union, Davis appointed Benjamin as Attorney General, and eventually as Secretary of War. Benjamin fled to Europe at the end of Civil War and is buried in Paris.

The wrong answers: Mutt Davis was the first Jewish mayor of Durham, North Carolina. M. J. Michelbacher was a rabbi in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War, and Samuel Alschuler was an Illinois photographer who photographed Abraham Lincoln. (see jewishvirtuallibrary.org and dixiejews)
7. Who was the first Jewish judge to serve on the US Supreme Court?

Answer: Louis Brandeis

Louis Brandeis was born in 1856 in Louisville, Kentucky, and received his law degree from Harvard University. President Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1916, making him the most prominent member of the Jewish community in America at that time. Benjamin Cardoza joined the Supreme Court in 1932, during Brandeis' tenure. Following Cardoza's retirement in 1938, Felix Frankfurter was appointed to the high court.

In addition to Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, Jewish justices Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas and Stephen Breyer have all served on the Supreme Court.
8. What historical incident led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League?

Answer: The lynching of Leo Frank

The United States, thankfully, has never seen pogroms or the anti-Semitic outrages that occurred in Europe and the Middle East. Nevertheless, there have been acts of discrimination and anti-Semitic incidents in the US. One of the worst cases involved Leo Frank, the manager of a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia.

When a young girl named Mary Phagan was found murdered in the factory in 1913, Frank was arrested and convicted of the crime. The investigation and trial were so biased that the governor of Georgia commuted Frank's death sentence to life imprisonment, and even made a comparison to another governor who had unfairly sentenced a Jew to death.

In 1915 Frank was eventually kidnapped by a mob and lynched. In response, the B'nai Brith organization founded the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL has since led the fight against anti-Semitism and all kinds of bigotry in the US.
9. The last great wave of Jewish settlers to the United States came from Eastern Europe, primarily Russia. One of the most important people in the early days of Eastern European immigration was Abraham Cahan. Who was he?

Answer: Editor of the "Daily Forward"

Abraham Cahan was born in 1860 in Latvia and immigrated to the United States in 1882. Five years later in launched the "Daily Forward", a Yiddish-language newspaper. The "Forward", however, was much more than just a newspaper. Cahan, an active socialist and labor organizer, was determined that the paper would assist newcomers to the United States in adjusting to their new country, and it was written in simple Yiddish that could be understood by all.

The paper educated its readers about life in the US, particularly through Cahan's column "A Bintel Brief" (a bundle of letters), which was one of the first advice columns to appear in an American newspaper. Readership of the "Forward" dropped as American Jews learned English and stopped speaking Yiddish. And, dear readers, I cannot resist at least one joke in this quiz: "One of the workers at the "Daily Forward" looks out the window and sees a funeral procession go by. 'Sammy", he yells to the pressman, 'print one less copy!'" Today, while the "Forward's" regular circulation has shrunk, it produces an edition in easy Yiddish for the many people throughout the word who are learning Yiddish.
10. What is unique about these four Jewish Americans - Judith Resnick, Scott Horowitz, Jeffrey Hoffman and David Wolf?

Answer: They are all astronauts

Judith Resnick was the first Jewish astronaut, as well as the second American woman in space. Tragically, she died in the "Challenger" disaster in 1986. Scott Horowitz has ventured into space several times, and Hoffman took a Torah scroll with him into space in 1996.
(see "Jewish News Weekly of Northern California" webpage).
Source: Author janetgool

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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