Irving Berlin knew it: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better! True, he may have meant Annie Oakley, but why be picky? No doubt Berlin, himself a record-holder (for White Christmas, yet), would agree that We Jews love a challenge. Whether we’re talking music, sports, debate, or “finding the cure,” you’ll find us striving to be the best among the best -- or at least “better.” Einstein, Freud, Salk, Spitz, Phelps, Streisand, to name a few, have earned a place in the world record books, and on the world stage. But not every title-holding MOT is a household name. Some are surprising, some unsung. And some, aren’t even people, but rather the “stuff” of records, from the serious to the humorous. Today, more and more Jewish organizations are using world records, no matter how strange, to promote community, culture, and tzedakah. So grab a few landsleit and next year, you too, instead of merely enjoying a sampling, may join the ranks of inspired MOTs at the top of the heap!
We Jews strive to be the best of the best.
Nes Gadol Haya Sham! “A Great Miracle Happened There.”
On November 30, 2010, two Yeshiva University students brought together 616 other Y.U. students, alumni, faculty, staff, neighbors and friends, and broke the Guinness World Record for most dreidels spun simultaneously. The previous record was 541, set in 2005. The event, termed “DreidelPalooza,” was organized to raise scholarship gelt.
In Tel Aviv, after almost 19 hours, Alik Gershon, 30, set a Guinness World record on October 22, 2010, by taking on 523 simultaneous chess opponents, and winning 86% of the games played! His victory trumped the Iranian record, set in 2009. The event was sponsored to mark the 20th anniversary of the mass aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Gershon himself is a native of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, who immigrated to Israel in 1990.
You Call This a Matzah Ball?
November, 2010 saw a record-breaking mega-matzah ball, the brainchild of Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s restaurant in Tucson. The feat required 125 pounds of matzah meal, 25 pounds of schmaltz, over 1,000 eggs, and a six-foot high, six-foot wide pot, to create the mega matzah ball, which at 488 pounds, is a new World Record, solidly beating the old one of 267 pounds set a year earlier by Noah’s Ark Deli in New York City.
It’s the Pravda!
Dateline: Moscow, December 13 2009. Jews from Russia and around the world gathered in a Moscow club, Zona, to celebrate Hanukkah by setting a new world record: lighting the most number of candles simultaneously. With each of the over 400 participants lighting four candles, they handily beat the previous record of 250 participants. The fiery feat, organized by Hillel Russia, also delivered the message of safety. During the event not only were fire laws scrupulously followed, tzedakah was collected for children whose parents perished in a club fire in Perm.
Hold the Pickle!
On February 11, 2009 in New York City, deli mavin David Sax, performed what no other Jew before him had managed to accomplish: He named 30 delis in just one minute, a new universal record.
During the nail-biting event, held by the World Record Appreciation Society, Sax maintained his concentration despite a heckler who kept yelling, "Carnegie! Carnegie!" His list of world-class Jewish eateries also included Katz's, Second Avenue Deli, Ben's, and Zabar’s. But then, is Zabar’s, with its sterling grocery “element” a “kosher” contender? Then again, they have chairs. (Or do they? And if you sit and don’t nosh – ) Oy ... and you thought deciding between corned beef and brisket was a problem.
A Banner Year!
It was a “banner” year for Israel in 2007! On November 25, the giant flag of the State of Israel, the size of two football stadiums, was hoisted and recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. But there’s more. On December 23, the 15-ton 777 Yahveh’s Banner, made up of the gi-normous Isreali flag, plus those of The Philippines, and North and South Korea, was unfurled at Masada Airfield, thus becoming the largest banner ever created! It took the nimble (and persistent) fingers of a 400 person Filipino sewing team in Masada to stitch the behemothic banner, the brainchild of Filipino visionary, Grace Galindez-Gupana, who wished to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Israel (1957–2007). The organizers plan to hoist the Yahveh’s Banner every December 25 to commemorate the Halleluyah Feast Global Celebration, and spread its “hugantic” message: peace in Jerusalem! Long and wide may she wave! (And don’t ask about the flagpole!)
Shofar “Blows” Old World Record
In 2006, the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation (Swampscott, MA.) “blew” the old world record for simultaneous shofar blowing by the greatest number of people! The old record, established in 2005 by the Jewish community of Philadelphia with a mere 400 shofar-blowers, was handily beaten by the 789 participants at Phillips Beach. The sound, described as elephants stampeding, continued for seven minutes and 56 seconds. Not all were blown by Jews. Many from Latin American churches also participated. Turning toward Israel, Jews and Gentiles blasted their way into the new World Record on September 17, 2006!
West to East:-The Flying Kosher Pizza
Our story started at the famed Broadway’s Jerusalem 2 in 1998. Then-owners, Eddie Fishbaum and his brother Ari, received a fax from one Eiji Bando, with the plea, “I’m hungry! Please deliver No.1 pizza ...!” To Japan! True to their vow to “deliver anywhere,” valiant Eddie, yarmulke in place, delivered and earned a place in Guinness World Records 2001, traveling 6914 miles to hand over the kosher pizza to Bando, a sports and media star, in 1998, a feat that cost $7,000 and was shown on Japanese TV.
Galloping Ida Mintz
Ida had always liked a brisk walk. Unusual? No. Then, she decided to run in Marathons in her home town of Chicago (and elsewhere). Unusual? No. Oh, but did I mentioned, she ran her first at age 73?! (And her last at 85?) When most of us are looking to “lie down,” Ida got up and sprinted in 10 races, making her not only the record-holder for the oldest marathoner, but anointing her the “Galloping Great-Grandmother!”
Said her daughter-in-law, Yocheved Mintz of Las Vegas, “She exercised in the closet, a habit no doubt started because as a child, hidden in the attic in Poland, she wasn’t allowed to run.” Ida, born on October 15, 1905, ran her last marathon in 1990. She died in 1991, leaving a vast legacy to her family, and her fellow Jews!