Young Champions Bring The Inspiration Back Home

Young Champions Bring The Inspiration Back Home

The International Torah Championship and Shabbaton made a lasting impression on the kids who joined from Latin America.

Coming from small, traditional Jewish communities all over Latin America—in places like Guayaquil, Ecuador, or Cali, Colombia—seven JewQ finalists were treated to a life-changing weekend experience in honor of the JewQ International Torah Championship. 

“Back home, they don’t have so many Jewish kids like them,” says Rabbi Chai Kohan, who directs the Spanish division of CKids International. “Then, all of a sudden, they come to a Shabbaton with over five hundred kids—that awakens a real feeling of Jewish pride.” 

Four years ago, JewQ launched with 100 Hebrew school students participating in Long Island. Since then, the International Torah Championship has expanded all over the world, with its most recent expansion this year to 8 different Latin American countries. 

A project spearheaded by Lubavitch of Colombia, these chapters, called “JewQ Beit Rachel,” were launched in Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Cuba, México, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Panamá. The branches were sponsored by her family in honor of Rajel Toledo, a loving wife, mother, and a champion of Jewish education. 

“When these kids are learning about their Judaism in their small towns, they feel connected to thousands of other Jewish kids learning the same thing all over the world,” Rabbi Kohan explains.

The Living Jewish textbook, the foundation of the JewQ curriculum, was translated into Spanish under Rabbi Kohan’s direction. After kids studied, reviewed, and passed tests, they earned the privilege of joining the CKids International JewQ Shabbaton. 

“I will always remember that I achieved something great,” says Dario Roiz, a 7th grader at Chabad Cordoba Hebrew School, who was also honored live on stage at the grand finale JewQ International Torah Championship event. The Latin American champions were featured in their own rapid-fire Spanish segment, tested live on stage to represent their countries. 

Along with Dario Roiz, the other kids called up for recognition were Ilana Rozmaryn from Bogota, Colombia and Ilan Strelic from Cali, Colombia, Tamár Teicher, Daniela Winer and Dario Roiz of Chabad of Cordoba, Argentina, Liél Husid of Chabad of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Dario Roiz of Chabad of Cordoba, Argentina.

Now, back home in their respective countries, the lasting impression of the JewQ experience is far from fading. “Coming to New York was huge for them,” says Rabbi Mendy Turk of Chabad Cordoba, Argentina. “For many kids it has always been a dream, both practically and spiritually.”

Besides participating in the warm, immersive environment of the Shabbaton, where they were able to absorb everything they had learned from their JewQ textbooks, they also had the chance to tour Crown Heights. Along with a trip to the Ohel, the group was treated to an exclusive visit to 770 and the Rebbe’s house. 

“The story of these kids is just the beginning,” says Rabbi Zalmy Loewenthal, CKids director. “As we continue to expand CKids around the world, we can literally change lives.”

To learn more about all the programs that CKids offers, visit CKids.net.

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