Saturday, March 19, 2016

Judaism in Jeopardy

Most of the time this blog avoids religion and politics, though I don't dodge the subjects religiously. So I'll note a minor rumpus about a rabbi's turn on Jeopardy.

The gentleman in question is Geoffrey Mitelman, a Reform rabbi who runs a blog called Sinai and Synapses. (That's really the title of the blog. It's a little more esoteric than, say, Game Show Follies.) He was a contestant on the March 16 Jeopardy ep, where he fell victim to Philip Tiu, the guy with the massive Daily Double bets. Philip would end his run the next day, which was probably little consolation to Geoffrey.

In a HuffPo piece, Geoffrey describes his "Jewish approach" to Jeopardy. Frankly, none of his tips sound Jewish to me - they're all generic and common-sense - and it's hard to see how any particular religion could offer an edge in the answer and question game. He expands on his Jeopardy experiences in several Sinai and Synapses posts, which the HuffPo article links to.

But the rabbi has one Jewish viewer who doesn't give a flip about his Jewish approach to the game. Novelist Jack Engelhard disses the rabbi in no uncertain terms. He's really irritated that Mr. Mitelman identified himself as a rabbi at the top of the show.
No man who's the real deal would ever precede himself on a game show with that honored title, a title earned through years of toil in Torah. A rabbi is a master of Jewish Law and Divinity and there ought to be a law against man or woman trifling a designation so treasured.
The novelist rants in this vein for quite a while. Apparently he wants his rabbis traditional and non-game-showy. In any event, this rabbi lost.

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