Jewish day college trainer wagers $18 on ‘Jeopardy’ to win $50,000

JTA — Astute viewers may discover loads of indicators in the course of the current “Jeopardy!” Lecturers Event that one main contestant had some Jewish bona fides.

There was the truth that Meggie Kwait teaches at Beit Rabban Day Faculty, a Jewish college on Manhattan’s Higher West Aspect. There was her coated hair, uncommon amongst game-show contestants however extra widespread amongst observant Jewish girls. After which there was her wager for the ultimate query on a day when she was to this point forward she couldn’t lose.


“Sure, I wagered $18,” Kwait advised the Jewish Telegraphic Company. “That was when all of the Jews realized I used to be Jewish.”

Kwait, a humanities trainer who skilled as a musician and spent a while in rabbinical college earlier than touchdown within the classroom, was certainly one of 14 contestants in the course of the trivia present’s two-week event only for educators. She gained two rounds to make it into the two-game remaining, the place completed second to a music trainer from Michigan. The expertise netted her $50,000 in prize cash, bragging rights and, she says, new associates she anticipates preserving for all times.


We talked to Kwait about her “Jeopardy!” expertise, her favourite classes to show and which of her solutions has been immortalized in a gif. This interview has been edited for size and readability.

JTA: How did you find yourself on Jeopardy and what was the expertise like?

Kwait: I used to be by no means an enormous “Jeopardy!” watcher or fan, however my partner is. Now we have very totally different TV tastes and we had been searching for one thing to look at, and there was a “Jeopardy!” assortment on Netflix. After some time he checked out me and stated you’re actually good, you must check out. So I registered, took the take a look at on-line, was invited to audition in Boston, sat within the pool for 18 months, after which they requested me to come back on the Lecturers Event.


I might describe myself as a generalist. I’ve this assorted background, and likewise a reminiscence for trivia and trivia. I knew I may reply the questions, but additionally knew that the majority of being profitable is just not having the proper reply, however having the arrogance to buzz in and the timing.

Individuals typically say that males are higher than girls on the present. And in case you have a look at the individuals who’ve had lengthy streaks, or the quantity folks win, it might be simple to attract that conclusion. That was one thing I used to be actually aware of, being the one girl within the finals. I attempted to be aggressive in my wagering and buzz in even when I didn’t know the reply. I hope we see extra girls take the take a look at and see these perceptions dissipate.

It’s not each day that you simply get to hang around with a bunch of different nerds who’ve the identical job as you


It was unbelievable. There have been 14 academics within the event. I didn’t anticipate that one of the best a part of collaborating can be assembly all the opposite academics. They had been all actually unbelievable, sensible, devoted educators. It’s not each day that you simply get to hang around with a bunch of different nerds who’ve the identical job as you.

Filming concluded earlier than the coronavirus pandemic. What has your college 12 months been like since?

Fairly instantly after the event, after we completed filming, the shelter-in-place orders got here down [because of the coronavirus pandemic]. In New York there was solely one other week earlier than our colleges closed. So [the teachers from the tournament] have been sharing ideas and tips for find out how to use Zoom and offering ethical help and inspiring one another.


My college did a very good job. We had a full day earlier than we began doing distant studying the place we got here collectively and talked about methods and strategies. Total, whereas there’s something about face-to-face and in-the-same-room instruction that can not be replicated, in some ways it’s the identical set of abilities: preserving children engaged, being within the materials your self, determining find out how to train in a wide range of methods.

My background is in music, and it’s at all times essential to include the humanities as an extra means for youths to entry content material and likewise their passions. Once I train the medieval interval in sixth-grade humanities, we arrange a scriptorium the place college students create their very own Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. Once I train historic Greece, they make up battle songs for his or her city-states.

Lots of people stated I used to be participating as they watched the present. I attempt to do the identical factor within the classroom.


Once I train historic Greece, they make up battle songs for his or her city-states

What different reactions have you ever gotten from “Jeopardy!” viewers?

I obtained a variety of constructive suggestions, but additionally political blowback about my response to “Magic Mike Pompeo.” [Kwait correctly offered that answer to the clue “2012 male stripper cinematic saga that went on to be our 70th Secretary of State.”] I used to be completely happy I obtained it proper — however then I visualized it. I actually assume I might have had the identical response about, like, John Kerry.


At any price, I made it right into a gif that individuals are utilizing. Clearly I’ve an expressive face.

I cowl my head so I used to be sporting a head masking, and it has been fascinating seeing feedback from folks asking “Why is she sporting that rag?” Getting the chance to clarify to folks what that’s all about has been fascinating.

Some folks had been actually resourceful and located my college tackle. It’s been everyone from a 79-year-old grandmother saying how proud they had been, to folks saying I used to be a Jewish educator myself for 30 years and it’s nice seeing a day college trainer up there, to youngsters saying I want you had been my trainer.


It’s been very nice listening to from folks — these have been a tough couple of weeks. It felt unusual posting about one thing that might be thought-about frivolous, however I’ve heard from folks saying thanks for bringing a bit bit of sunshine to this darkish time.

I’ve heard from folks saying thanks for bringing a bit bit of sunshine to this darkish time

What had been the Jewish highlights of your expertise?


There was one other Jewish trainer within the event [Lauren Schneider Lipton, who teaches health in Seattle]. It turned out we had mutual associates however we hadn’t met one another. Once we had been watching the opposite video games, if there was a Bible class or Israel, we’d have a look at one another and assume, oh I knew that one, which was a neat second of connection.

Additionally, my college did a digital watch celebration for 3 of the 4 video games, and a number of other academics stated it was unbelievable to listen to me say Beit Rabban, the day college’s title, on the second day of the finals. Giving visibility for our teeny, tiny day college — that was thrilling.

After which, earlier than the event began, a producer got here and advised us, “We predict actually lengthy and arduous about including particular occasions to ‘Jeopardy!’ Once we determined so as to add the Lecturers Event, it was not as a result of academics can’t compete within the common season — they do — however as a result of we don’t do sufficient on this nation to honor educators. You’re among the most essential folks in our society, and we’re humbled and grateful that we are able to deliver you to a nationwide stage that means.”


I used to be so touched by that. It was not a means I had considered the event being framed. Within the Jewish world we very a lot worth training and erudition, and it felt like a Jewish worth being expressed for the nation at massive. It was a phenomenal second.

What are your takeaways from the expertise — and what are you going to do with the $50,000?

I reside in New York Metropolis, so I’ve little doubt that we can discover a place for that cash to be spent. I had deliberate to journey this summer time with among the winnings, nevertheless it appears like that’s out for now. I used to be going to go to Italy — I assume that may wait.


My overriding reminiscence of it’s simply exhilaration and pleasure. Some folks have stated, “Oh, I’m so unhappy you misplaced,” however I actually don’t really feel that means. I do know it sounds tacky, however I felt like I used to be profitable from the second I obtained there.

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