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First Half Answers to the Adar Trivia Quiz: 5782

All those who score higher than 50 percent may bestow upon themselves the lofty title of amateur historian

Presented here are the first half of the answers to the For the Record trivia quiz for 2022! To be continued next week with the remaining answers. We hope you have as much fun as we did discussing the questions and answers with your friends and family, as we continue the quest to make Jewish history great again.

Remember the prize: All those who score higher than 50 percent may bestow upon themselves the lofty title of amateur historian and be the official arbiter on Jewish historical topics at the Shabbos table and yeshivah coffee rooms (sort of like us).

  1. This great rosh yeshivah and mechadeish is the only known person to have learned in (the original) Volozhin, Kelm, and Slabodka.

Rav Shlomo Polachek (1887-1928), the Meitscheter Illui. The original Volozhin Yeshivah was closed down by the czarist government in 1892, and the Meitscheter found himself in Brisk with his rebbi Rav Chaim Soloveitchik. After some time, he was recruited by the Alter of Slabodka, who had an eye for geniuses and heard about him from his son Rav Lezier Yudel. He also spent a short time in Kelm, but the very independent Meitscheter didn’t take to the mussar system.

  1. These three gedolim passed away in Israel within a seven [nine]-week period in the 1950s, plunging the country into mourning.

On 15 Cheshvan 1953, Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the Chazon Ish, passed away in Bnei Brak at the age of 74. About nine weeks later, on 24 Teves in the same city, Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, mashgiach of Ponevezh, left this world in an untimely fashion at 61. In the interim, Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, passed away in Yerushalayim on 10 Kislev at 83. (We know we wrote seven weeks in the question, but we had some Purim drinks and fulfilled the requirement of not knowing the difference between seven and nine.)

  1. Name three yeshivos that found refuge in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk during World War I.

World War I wreaked havoc on Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement, and many became refugees. Some made it to Ukraine, where they were welcomed and cared for by local Ukrainian Jews. Several yeshivos made it to Kremenchuk: Slabodka–Knesses Yisrael, under the leadership of the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein; Slabodka–Knesses Beis Yitzchak with Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz; and the central yeshivah of Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch. As most of the town’s religious Jews were Chabad chassidim, the latter yeshivah was in a natural setting. A branch of Novardok Yeshivah was exiled there as well.

  1. Name seven chassidic dynasties that stem from Chernobyl.

When Rav Mordechai Twersky, the Maggid of Chernobyl, passed away in 1837, all eight sons spread across the Ukrainian landscape and began their own dynasties. Rav Aharon stayed in Chernobyl, Rav Moshe founded Korostyshev, Rav Yaakov Yisrael opted for Cherkassy. The other siblings founded the Tolna, Makarov, Trisk, Skver, and Rachmistrivka dynasties. Subsequent generations added Hornosteipel, Shpikov, Ovruch, Machnovka, Paltishan, Zlatipoli, and several others. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the fallout from Chernobyl is pretty widespread.

  1. Name three famous rabbis who resided in the town of Luban, Belarus.

Luban (or Lyuban), Belarus, is a small town in the Minsk district not far from Slutzk. In 1873, Rav Yerucham Levovitz was born there, and three decades later, his soon-to-be-close talmid Rav Dovid Povarsky was born in the same town. Long after they had both departed,  Rav Moshe Feinstein served as rabbi of the Lyuban Jewish community for nearly 16 years, under increasingly challenging conditions of the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

  1. Which four cities around the world had the largest prewar Jewish population?

New York City, unsurprisingly, tops the list with nearly two million Jews. Second was Warsaw, then considered the capital of the Jewish world, with close to 400,000. Then Chicago with nearly 300,000. The fourth one surprised us, too. We thought it would be Lodz with 233,000. Turns out that the massive urbanization of Soviet Jewry had a dramatic effect on demographics, and Moscow was home to 251,000 Jews in 1939. Lodz wasn’t even number five on the list. The refugee influx from Nazi Germany caused London’s Jewish population to swell to nearly 250,000 at the end of 1939. Because we know you are wondering, the Jewish population of Yerushalayim was approximately 77,000.

  1. Rav Yechezkel Landau named a sefer for his mother (Tzlach) and another for his father (Noda B’Yehuda). Which great rabbinic figure did something similar in the last generation?

Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (1899–1985) was known as the Steipler for his hometown of Hornosteipel, Ukraine. The Steipler’s commentary on the Torah was named Birchas Peretz, a tribute to his parents Chaim Peretz and Bracha.

  1. Which three cities in prewar Europe were host to a Bais Yaakov Teachers Seminary?

As the Bais Yaakov movement experienced rapid growth in the 1920s, it became a victim of its own success. The dearth of qualified teachers threatened to stall the momentum. Sarah Schenirer opened the first teachers seminary in her Krakow apartment in 1923, and in 1931 the flagship seminary entered its own impressive five-story edifice at 10 Stanislawa Street in Krakow. A year earlier, another teachers seminary opened in Vienna, headed by Dr. Leo Deutschlander, and in 1935 a third one opened in Czernowitz, Bukovina, under the directorship of Esther Hamburger.

  1. Name at least four rabbis whose last names were also names of cities.

Rav Naftali Amsterdam was rabbi in Helsinki for a while, but Rav Naftali Helsinki just doesn’t have the same ring as his fellow mussar adherent Rav Itzele Peterberger (rav of St. Petersburg). Officially Rav Raphael HaKohein wasn’t named Hamburger, but his rabbinate in Hamburg made him known to posterity as Rav Raphael Hamburger. When Rav Mordechai, the Chernobyler Maggid, chose the last name Twersky, it was to associate with the city of Teveria. The Panim Meiros served as rabbi in the Austrian town of Eisenstadt 1717–1744, and is remembered as Rav Meir Eisenstadt. Rav Moshe Nochum Yerushalamsky (1855–1916) was the longtime rabbi of Kielce. Rav Moshe Chevroni (1905–1975) hebraicized his name when the Slabodka Yeshivah moved to Chevron. And of course the Netziv was Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, and the Yaavetz was Rav Yaakov Emden. Obviously there are many others…

  1. Rivka’s son was a famous rabbi who included his mother in his name, but another descendant of hers was even more famous. Name these two rabbis.

Rivka undertook the responsibility of financially supporting her family, enabling her husband and son Moshe to study Torah, and the latter was known as Rav Moshe Rivka’s, which morphed into Rivkash. He was a rabbi in Vilna, and author of Be’er Hagolah on Shulchan Aruch. Their illustrious descendant was the Vilna Gaon.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 905)

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