We Jews are nothing if not achievers. Show us a mountain and we’ll climb, a sky, we’ll dive, a “bungee,” we’ll jump, a – Wait! Am I meshugge? Show us a dreidel, we’ll spin it, a matzo ball, we’ll fatten it, hummus, we’ll spread it over a satellite dish – that’s better! True, there are MOTs who fling and fly, but the vast majority of Jewish Record setters this past year have preferred safer, decidedly more savory and charitable endeavors!

Yes our people set records this year, and no they’re not just for accounting.

Some were noble pursuits performed by groups and countries for tzedakah. Others were a bissel odd. But all are a testament to the mighty spirit of the MOT (Member of the Tribe)! So, as we wave farewell to the secular year 2010, let’s look at six that made an indelible mark in that Macher of Mavinhood, the Guinness Book of World Records.

Nes Gadol Haya Sham! “A Great Miracle Happened There.”

All they wanted for Hanukkah was a Guinness title, and it looks as though they’ve “spun” their way into it, and some scholarship gelt to boot! On November 30, the dream of two Yeshiva University students was realized when they, along with 616 other Y.U. students, alumni, faculty, staff, neighbors and friends, filled the Max Stern Athletic Center in Manhattan the night before Hanukkah to break the Guinness World Record for most dreidels spun simultaneously. The previous record of 541 was set at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, N.J. in 2005.

This event, termed “DreidelPalooza,” was organized by Students Helping Students, which raises money for scholarships. As over 70% of the Y.U. student body receive some sort of financial aid, the group not only twirled their way into the record book, they raised awareness, pride, and much needed gelt to further Jewish education!


The tension was high in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last October 21, as Israeli Chess champion, Alik Gershon, 30, set out to play the most simultaneous opponents at Chess. In order to set a new Guinness World Record, Gershon would have to take on more than 500 simultaneous opponents and win at least 80 percent of the matches to beat the record set in Iran in 2009. If you think his opponents were a bunch of bubbies, Gershon's opponents were ranked by the Israel Chess Federation, as per the requirements of the auspicious Guinness. Most were immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Gershon himself, is a native of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, who immigrated to Israel in 1990.

The event was sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Israel Chess Federation to mark the 20th anniversary of the mass aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky kicked things off, by squaring off against Gershon at the start of the event which attracted many other public figures among the spectators.

The formalities started at 11.30 am, and by 6 am the next morning, Gershon handily beat the record taking on 523 simultaneous opponents, and winning 86% of the games played!

You Call This a Matzo Ball?

At almost 500 pounds, maybe a matzo boulder! No, it wasn’t some “natural” formation that Hashem bestowed upon Boomer Jews who have flocked to the desert (this one in Arizona). It was created by Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s restaurant in Tucson this past November for the Third Annual Jewish Food Festival. The feat required 125 pounds of matzo meal, 25 pounds of schmaltz, over 1,000 eggs, and a six-foot high, six-foot wide pot, to create the mega matzo 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.

The biggest challenge was insuring the ingredients would hold together, so Chef Jon, relying upon his bubbie’s recipe (with a few upward modifications), added 20 pounds of potato starch, and covered the monster matzo ball in heavy cheese cloth during boiling.

And what of the soup?? It took 320 chickens, 80 pounds of carrots, 40 pounds of celery, 40 pounds of onions and a 1,500 pound kettle! As for what to put the leftovers in? Personally, I’m bringing a ladle, a boat load of mandlen, and heading for Hoover Dam.

Proceeds from admission tickets went to the Community Food Bank, to ensure holiday meals for everyone.

“Battle Hummus” Rages Toward Peaceful Settlement?

In my continuing coverage of the Great Hummus Wars here, we left off with Lebanon grabbing the honors last October. Good news, pro-Israeli hummus fans! A mere three months later, in January of 2010, the Israelis came back to reclaim their rightful place in Hummus history. Jawdat Ibrahim, an Israeli-Arab, who is a 17.5 million-dollar U.S. lottery winner, and restaurateur was behind this successful attempt to wrest the prize from Lebanon in the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh. Their record-breaking hummus weighed over 9,000 pounds (and was served on a satellite dish)! The struggle was described by Israel's Army radio as the Third Lebanon War. But Ibrahim, who awards scholarships to both Arab and Jewish university students and hosts informal peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders at his Abu Ghosh eatery, may approach the Lebanese to suggest a joint Israeli-Lebanese effort to create the Ultimate Hummus! Can the road to peace be paved with chick peas?? Stay tuned, mamalas!

IDF Prepares Jewish Aussie to Muscle in On New Guinness Record!

His name? Jarryd Rubinstein. His Game? “Muscle-ups.” Farshay? As far as I can gather, a muscle-up is a combination chin-up and dip, where the upper body is raised above a bar to the point at which the arms can be straightened. Does that help you? (Me neither.) But 26-year-old Rubinstein, now an Australian, who served in an elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces, recently registered 25 Muscle-ups, beating the previous record of 15, and is in the process of being formally recognized by Guinness as the world record holder. In addition to meeting Guinness requirements (two witnesses, including a certified trainer, photos and video), Rubinstein put his feat on YouTube with a challenge to all comers. It has received around 300,000 hits! The closest anyone came to beating him was a fellow in New York who did 20.

Twenty is “typical” for Rubinstein, who credits his three years with the IDF for his super strength. The 143 pound muscle man, who trains at Bondi Beach, spent three years in the elite Sayeret Golani counter-terror unit preventing hundreds of casualties in operations against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and Nablus.

He kept up the training when he returned to Australia in 2008. When he’s not working in wealth management, he’s often seen performing his muscle-ups in the exercise area near North Bondi Surf Club.

Muscles up, dude!

The Record-Breaking Record Breaker: Ashrita Furman

Arguably one of the world’s finest (and well-rounded) athletes, health food store manager, Ashrita Furman, born Keith Furman in Queens, New York, is the world’s primo world record breaker and holder! This past November 18, he received his 122nd Guinness nod, bestowed in London by the editor. It read: Most Records Currently Held by an Individual!

A wimp in High School, Furman, in 1979 at age 25, set his first official record by doing 27,000 jumping jacks. In 1986, he invented, then set the record for underwater pogo stick jumping which he introduced on Good Morning America on April Fool’s Day. That same year, he performed what may have been his most daunting tasks: setting records at historic landmarks which included doing forward rolls along the 12 ¼ mile route of Paul Revere's Ride, and jumping 11 ½ miles up and down the foothills of Mount Fuji on a pogo stick!

Middle age hasn’t slowed Furman’s quest for the best. In 2010, in addition to his record-setting honor, the Brooklyn born maven, who’s motive has been to inspire others to “connect with their own indomitable inner strength,” has set about 40 new records. These include: pea, coin, and stamp blowing distance, Hula Hoop spinning, grape catching by mouth, orange, lemon, and pickled egg eating, apple bobbing, golf ball bouncing (on a golf club), egg cracking, balancing, and catching, duct-taping (himself to a wall), underwater juggling, spitting (all kinds).

And so, Furman, along with the other MOTs in our group, through valiant effort, unparalleled persistence, and unmatched creativity, have once again, in 2010 earned a place in the Guinness Record book, and added a colorful, if odd, stitch to the fabric of our Jewish History!

Mazel Tov to all!