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The JC Archive blog No.14 - Funny Mistakes Kids Make In Exams, 1907

Some Pesach-related notes from the ongoing series in which genealogist Rivka Goldblatt delves into the more interesting corners of the JC Archive

    Funny exam answers? If you Google it, you’ll find what the latest clever kid wrote in his GCSE – but here are some gloriously innocent exam mistakes made by juniors back in 1907.

    Presenting, from the ‘Young Israel’, junior supplement to the Passover 1907 issue of The Jewish Chronicle (22nd March 1907), some….

    SCHOOLROOM HUMOUR

    By An Examiner,

    About the Seder table I have received all sorts of curious answers in my time.

    One lad was of opinion that we drank four cups of wine because the Israelites left Egypt at four o’clock in the morning. And the eating of Charoseth was explained by another ingenious little fellow, who ought to be a lawyer when he grows up, on the ground that when the Israelites went into the wilderness, they left all the nice things to eat behind them in Egypt, So G-d gave them Charoseth to make up for what they had lost.

    A little girl, whom I was [examining] in Scripture History, once told me that Noah had two sons and two daughters. It was in vain that I pointed out her mistake. She persisted that it was so, because she had actually seen the two sons and two daughters in Noah’s Ark!

    Or she thought she had, which was the same thing.

    This same little girl, on being asked by me why we eat Motzas at Passover, replied without a moment’s hesitation: “Because they are nice.”

    I have been told by pupils under examination that the Israelites were in Egypt forty days and forty nights; that the sun stood still while Moses and the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea; that the Levites were the fighting people, and that the first High Priest was Dr. Adler; that Sisera was caught on a tree and that Absalom fought a battle against the Egyptians; and that, with regard to the two spies who brought back a favourable report of the Promised Land, Moses did not believe them at first, but afterwards he found out that they were telling the truth.

    Having once had a pupil who belonged to the Reform community, I thought it a fair question to ask [him] in what the difference between the two sections of Jews consisted. The answer came: “The orthodox keep everything twice as long as the others.”

    In a religious class, which I have often examined, I asked a child whether he could quote any commandment in the Bible which enjoined us to be honest. Very pat came the reply: “Honesty is the best policy.” I wonder what the Zionist would think of an answer I got from the same class to the question whether we Jews are going back to the Promised Land. I was told: “Only those who are good.”

    Could any examiner find it possible to award such an answer a bad mark? I could not.

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