How many Jewish holiday foods can you name? In what city did King Solomon build the Beit Hamikdash, the Jewish Temple? What did Rabbi Akiva see that made him realize he could, at 40, begin studying Torah? And what are the Maimonidean 13 fundamental Jewish beliefs? What are the Ten Commandments in order?
Students who compete in the JewQ International Jewish Knowledge Championship on March 26 in Stamford, Conn., will encounter questions like these, according to Rabbi Zalmy Loewenthal, director of CKids International.
Loewenthal expects 1,000 attendees, including 300 third- to fifth-grader finalists, culled from some 3,500 students at 230 schools worldwide. The students—none of whom attend a Jewish day school—hail from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Ecuador, France, India, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Students will face questions that are designed to test their knowledge, memory and speed, according to Loewenthal.
Competing third-graders will get true-or-false, yes-or-no and right-or-wrong questions, which they will answer by lifting “special paddles,” according to Loewenthal. “The questions are carefully crafted to ensure that only the most knowledgeable champions can emerge victorious.”
Fourth-graders will use a buzzer to answer questions, which will be more detailed than the ones that the younger group will face. Before having the chance to answer the question correctly, competitors will have to be quick on the draw with the buzzer.
Meanwhile, fifth-grader competitors might be given a chart divided by months of the year and have to associate pictures with holidays. “The students will participate in a race against the clock,” said Loewenthal.
The competition is a project of CKids, the Chabad Children’s Network, led by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky at Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“With all the largest companies in the world vying for our children’s attention, it’s critical that we constantly seek new ways to engage our youth,” Kotlarsky told JNS.
“The JewQ program has been a complete game changer for Hebrew-school education,” he added. “The competition causes the children to become self-motivated and inspired to explore their Jewish heritage. The ultimate prize is the fundamental knowledge the participants gain, empowering them with the confidence to be proud of their Jewish identity.”