The final round of the Darkeinu Olympic quiz for participants from Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Azerbaijan took place Wednesday in Dnieper, Ukraine. 42 students from 17 cities participated in the finals competition, and by the end of the day a winner was announced in each of the three age groups.
Over 1,700 students began the contest’s first round in January. Darkeinu “Olympics” is a contest that tests the students’ knowledge of Jewish tradition, including texts, Jewish values, history and ethics. The final round for 47 finalists from Russia took place in Petersburg last month, while finalists from other FSU countries gathered this week in Dnieper’s ‘Beit Chana’ pedagogical institute to determine the winners.
After a day-long final competition, which consisted of several rounds, the winners became: Eva Meshieva from Baku, Azerbaijan in the 9-11 grade category, Max Yaroshevsky from Cherkassy, Ukraine in the 7-8 grade category and Keila Maliar from Kamenskoye, Ukraine in the 5-6 grade category. 2nd and 3rd places were taken by contestants from Odessa, Krivoi Rog, Kharkov and Dnieper.
The winners were awarded valuable prizes in the form of “Apple” watches, headphones and portable music systems. All of the final’s participants also received consolation prizes. Besides the contest, the finalists also got to enjoy a rich cultural and entertainment program on their visit to Dnieper: they visited museums, toured the city, went ice-skating and bowling, met with Institute’s staff and much more.
“One of the main goals of Darkeinu Olympics is not just to foster the students’ interest in the Jewish heritage subjects and raise their prestige, but also to provide a unique opportunity for students and teachers from different cities and countries, who have a common interest in Jewish heritage and tradition, to meet each other and make meaningful connections,” said Mrs. Sarah Vernick, the project’s coordinator.
This is the forth year the contest is conducted, and for the first time students from a network of Ahdut week-end schools also participated. The final was attended by many honorable guests, among them the Chief Rabbi of Shmuel Kaminetsky, ‘Beit Chana’ president Mr. director Rabbi Meir Stambler, the director of Dnieper Jewish community Zelig Brez, the Secretary of the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine Vyacheslav Smotkin and many others.
Darkeinu is the educational curriculum specifically devised for teaching Jewish tradition to students in Jewish schools throughout the FSU. Developed by trained professionals, the curriculum is a complex and encompassing program covering course work from kindergarten to 11th grade of school. Besides the Olympics contest Darkeinu also runs other informal educational events, such as Jewish holiday quizzes, teaching seminars and parent conferences.