Netanel Paley of Teaneck has a secret.
Mr. Paley, 21, a senior at Yeshiva University, where he is majoring in biology, flew to Los Angeles earlier this month to appear in the “Jeopardy! College Championship” tournament. He was competing against 14 other brainy undergraduates for a grand prize of $100,000.
The tournament will air beginning February 13. Until then, Mr. Paley is not permitted to reveal the outcome.
He’ll watch the first show in the 10-day championship with his parents, Jeff and Shara, and his three younger siblings on multiple screens at 7 p.m. at the Teaneck Doghouse, a kosher sports bar and grill. The Doghouse is throwing a viewing party in Mr. Paley’s honor.
“I’m really blessed to have had this amazing experience,” Mr. Paley said. “It was so much fun.” “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek didn’t question him about his white-bordered navy crocheted kippah or his side curls, but nevertheless he aimed to “put Orthodox Jewry out there a little more” during his time in L.A . (The show was taped from January 8 to 12.
“At least passively representing Orthodox Judaism is humbling and I hope I did a good job,” said Mr. Paley, a congregant at Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield.
He was impressed with the camaraderie among the contestants, he added. “Everyone was so nice and friendly. There was never an air of a cutthroat competition, and there were no sore losers. We were all high-fiving each other and cheering each other on.”
Without sharing any information he had sworn not to divulge, he agreed to a question-and-answer session with the Jewish Standard. In homage to the venerable “Jeopardy!” quiz-show format, we’re presenting it as an answer-and-question instead.
A: RYNJ, MTA, TABC.
Q: Which schools did Mr. Paley attend before college? (Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, Manhattan Talmudical Academy, Torah Academy of Bergen County)
A: Since childhood.
Q: For how long has Mr. Paley been a fan of “Jeopardy!”?
A: 23 million.
Q: How many viewers tune into “Jeopardy!” during an average week?
A: Checking online regularly for upcoming tryouts and signing up for an email alert about the next College Championship online tryout.
Q: How did Mr. Paley find out about the “Jeopardy!” test in September?
Q: How many answers/questions are on the qualifying test?
A: 15 seconds.
Q: How much time is allotted for offering each response?
A: Sunday, October 23 (Hoshana Raba on the Jewish calendar) at a hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Q: When and where did Mr. Paley audition after acing the qualifying test? (The audition originally was scheduled for Saturday the 22nd, but Mr. Paley requested and received an exception in deference to his Sabbath observance.)
A: Because it was a random number in California.
Q: Why did Mr. Paley hesitate to answer the phone call in early December telling him the good news about his acceptance to the College Championship? (“I thought it was a telemarketer,” he said.)
A: 15 and one alternate.
Q: How many contestants were chosen for the College Championship?
A: “Trust your timing with the buzzer and have a funny backup answer ready in case you don’t know the Final Jeopardy response.”
Q: What advice did Mr. Paley receive from an Orthodox former “Jeopardy!” contestant he contacted before the taping?
A: Reference books; lists of famous books and authors; three AP review books on American, European and world history; a couple of pop culture books (like “1,001 Movies You Must See before You Die”); a list of the 25 top TV shows of 2015.
Q: What were some of the sources Mr. Paley consulted to prepare for the quiz show?
A: Word association.
Q: What is Mr. Paley’s most effective way of memorizing facts? (“For example, something about the title of a book will allow me to associate it with the author,” he said. “I really don’t have the greatest memory. It works better for trivia. For school exams I need to study a lot.”)
A: Peanut butter and jelly.
Q: What kind of sandwich did Mr. Paley eat often during his five days in Los Angeles because he neglected to arrange for kosher meals?
A: In high school, Mr. Paley was a state finalist in this contest.
Q: What is the National Geographic Geography Bee?
A: In high school, Mr. Paley was a regional finalist in this contest.
Q: What is the Scripps National Spelling Bee?
A: The Entrepreneurship and Biotechnology Club, theEruv student chesed network, and Active Minds.
Q: In which Yeshiva University student organizations is Mr. Paley active? (He’s president of the Entrepreneurship and Biotechnology Club; founder of theEruv, which organizes volunteer initiatives in the greater Washington Heights community, such as packing at a local food pantry and sponsoring a Shabbat lunch at a nursing home, and he is a board member of YU’s branch of Active Minds, a national organization that raises awareness for mental health on college campuses.)
A: America’s Favorite Quiz Show.
Q: What is the trademarked slogan of “Jeopardy!”?