“My Parents Believed in Me,” Jake Liebowitz Wins the Australian JewQ Championship

“My Parents Believed in Me,” Jake Liebowitz Wins the Australian JewQ Championship

Photos: Photos AU Article

12-year-old Jake Liebowitz of S. Ives, Australia, took home the JewQ Champion trophy for mastering core areas of Jewish knowledge along with two hundred fifty other young Australian Jews who do not attend a Jewish day school.

12-year-old Jake Liebowitz walked away from JewQ’s final Australian championship gameshow on November 13 with an Ultimate Champion trophy and beaming parents. Jake couldn’t believe he’d won. He began studying JewQ’s curriculum last June when he “didn’t know any of it—besides for the six days of creation.” Five months later, he held his own on numerous core Jewish topics, from biblical heroes and holidays to blessings and the details of mitzvot.

Using a proprietary curriculum called Living Jewish, CKids International’s JewQ program enables thousands of Jewish children worldwide who don’t attend a Jewish school to study fundamental Jewish knowledge and participate in regional Shabbatons and exciting trips. At regional championships, the children show off their learning in an exciting gameshow before an audience of proud parents and family members.

Jake heard of JewQ through Rabbi Mendy and Chanie Schapiro at his family’s Chabad synagogue, Chabad North Shore, in the Sydney suburb of St. Ives. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it, but his father, Ivan Leibowitz, believed in him. “My dad thought I could easily become the champion of JewQ,” Jake said, “He told me that about ten times a day.”

Along with two hundred fifty other kids, from third to seventh graders, Jake studied hard and scored high on his JewQ tests. “I realized how much I’d have to work,” he said, “It was like, aww, I need to remember all the books of Tanach and this and that.” But his support network got him through. “My parents were very supportive, and Chabad was too,” he said.

In the end, Jake said it was worth all the effort. At a series of three finale events hosted by Rabbi Nir and Dina Gurevitch at Chabad Gold Coast in Queensland; Rabbi Schochat, Rabbi Levitanky, and Rabbi Benny Barukh at JEMs in Sydney; and Rabbi Reuvi Cooper at Chabad Malvern in Melbourne, children from eleven schools enjoyed exciting trips to amusement parks and took part in competitive JewQ knowledge games. 

Last year’s Australian JewQ program had one hundred fifteen participants from eight schools, so this year’s two hundred fifty participants from eleven locations represent significant growth for the program. “More and more, parents and kids across Australian communities are seeing JewQ change lives,” said Rabbi Zalmy Loewenthal, director of CKids International. “Expanding their knowledge at a young age goes a long way toward giving the next generation a strong, confident Jewish identity.”

While Jake won the title of JewQ Champion, third grader Eliot Goldin of Melbourne’s L’Chaim Chabad; fourth grader Samara Oakley of Newcastle’s Chabad of the Hunter and Central Coast; fifth grader Lia Levinzon of Queensland’s Chabad Gold Coast; sixth grader Gabriel Caspary of New South Wales and the Reddam House School; and seventh grader Mia Kleiman of Chabad North Shore in New South Wales, won their respective grade-level championships.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of CKids International, said he was inspired to see the program’s success. “It’s uplifting to see hundreds of Jewish children learn about their heritage while having a great time,” he said. “We’re seeing JewQ make a real difference for many families.”

When Jake Liebowitz was announced JewQ Champion, he said he couldn’t believe it. “I still can’t believe it,” he said days later. “My mom was very proud of me, and my dad said, ‘I thought so.’ Jake is eagerly looking forward to his trip to New York City, where he will represent Australia on stage at the International JewQ Torah Championship!

To learn more about JewQ in Australia, visit: ckids.net.au

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