International Chidon Mitzvos Hosts Over a Thousand Girls and Boys in NY


International Chidon Mitzvos Hosts Over a Thousand Girls and Boys in NY

Bracha Miriam Turner

The Chidon Mitzvos is an international competition in which children are responsible for knowing the details of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. On two separate weekends in the latter half of March, boys and girls flew into New York to be tested and to subsequently compete against one another in a grand finale. Fourth to eighth graders each focus on different segments of the Sefer Hamitzvos. Hence, a child who participates in the program for five consecutive years will have learned all the mitzvos of the Torah, even ones not applicable today.

Qualified participants who score an average of 70% on three tests qualified to fly into New York for a shabbaton, and the top students in each class represented their school in a competition “game show” against one another. The competition was established 25 years ago to fulfill the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s request from his followers to learn Rambam every day. The Rambam is the only compilation which includes the entire Torah; therefore, a person who studies it daily over the course of one to three years has acquired great breadth of Torah knowledge. The goal of the Chidon is to instill the foundation for the daily study of the Rambam, thereby enhancing their future learning.

During the course of the shabbaton, the students participated in a trip to the Rebbe’s Ohel, they got an opportunity to recite tehillim in the Rebbe’s private study at his home, and they were treated with other attractions in New York such as boating and ice skating.

“The Shabbat meal was remarkable,” explained Rabbi Sholom Heidingsfeld, who coordinated the program for Cheder Menachem. “The energy in the room with over 500 kids and their counselors singing and dancing together was full of chayus (energy).”

The participants of the grand finale of the contest were separated into teams who compete against each other to answer extremely difficult questions at the hit of a buzzer – questions such as “name all the mitzvos in the book you learned which have to do with hair,” “name all the mitzvos in your book which are connected to the beis hamikdash.”

The children demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the mitzvos, which many adults are not necessarily aware of. Participants were all individuals who worked for it, studying for hours and hours for six months. The contest has stimulated less motivated students to willingly open a book, and in the meanwhile they acquired new learning habits for life.

What was the highlight of the shabbaton? A student from Cheder Menachem answered with glee, “winning the trophy!” Most of the boys and girls from Los Angeles received a plaque, achieving over seventy percent in the finale. Students who excelled beyond this were awarded medals and trophies.  The children demonstrated an eagerness for learning and the overall success of alternatives to classroom learning.

Ms. Dalfin, who organized the program for the girls’ school, remarked, “You could tell that it was information that they really thought about and that they knew they were going to apply.”  The contest encouraged children to think creatively and as a team, and it is certainly something that will stick with them as they grow in their knowledge and the application of it.

Side bar

List of students from Los Angeles who scored an average of at least 70% on 3 tests

Bais Chaya Mushka:
Grade 4

Mushka Zaetz – School Representative
Nechama Schochet – School Representative
Bina Meyers – Contestant
Chaya Gordon – Contestant
Chaya Haratz – Contestant
Chaya Mushka B. Teleshevsky – Contestant
Cherna Schmukler – Contestant
Menucha Rachel Begun – Contestant
Miriam Lazaroff – Contestant
Shira Hecht – Contestant
Zelda Rochel Schapiro – Contestant
Grade 5

Chana Pinson – School Representative
Shaina Fischer – School Representative
Chaya M. Habibian – Contestant
Shaina Chava Levitansky – Contestant
Shira Benzaquen – Contestant
Simcha Cunin – Contestant
Grade 6

Mushka Brook – School Representative
Grade 7

Chaya Mushka gurary – School Representative
Mushka Newman – School Representative
Chana Begun – Contestant
Ella Morris – Contestant
Malka Bracha Heidingsfeld – Contestant
Shaina Mina Wolowik – Contestant
Shterna Hecht – Contestant

Cheder Menachem:
Grade 4

Menachem Mendel Kirschenbaum – School Representative
Zalman Leib Belinow – School Representative
Chaim Mordechai Aizik Kramer – Contestant
Getzel Rubashkin- Contestant
Meir Yehuda Leibowitz – Contestant
Yosef Massoud Wagshul – Contestant
Grade 5

Yechezkel Binstok – Contestant
Yossi Heidingsfeld – School Representative
Aaron Yakov Makhlin – Contestant
Avraham Pesach Bart – Contestant
Michoel Teitelbaum – Contestant
Moshe Aharon Shusterman – Contestant
Shneur Zalman Newman – Contestant
Yitzchok Wolowik – Contestant

Grade 6
Tzvi Shusterman – School Representative
Yosef Peretz Cunin- School Representative
Avrahom Mordechai Levin – Contestant
Levi Y. Cohen – Contestant
Menachem Mendel Fischer – Contestant
Menachem Mendel Rubashkin – Contestant

Grade 7
Shneur Wagner – School Representative
Sholom DovBer Cohen – School Representative

Grade 8
Chaim Hillel korf – School Representative
Yechezkel Pinson – School Representative
Tzemach Begun – Contestant
Tzemach Cohen – Contestant