Over 1,300 kids from Jewish schools across the FSU participated recently in the first rounds of FJC’s Darkeinu Olympics contest. 109 students have made it to the finals that will take place in the spring, one in Moscow, Russia and one in Dnepr, Ukraine. This is the fourth year the Jewish Olympics contest is running and it has become a well-known event in the region’s Jewish calendar.
“Today Darkeinu Olympics have become more than the largest Jewish tradition contest in the region. It became a celebration of Jewish identity. Thousands of children and their parents, teachers, and friends join in the competition, making it an active part of their daily lives!” said Sarah Ruth Vernick, informal education projects coordinator at Darkeinu.
1,332 children from 2-11 grades took part in the first round of the contest, and 584 made it to the second. Last week Darkeinu published the results of the second round, announcing the lucky finalists. Younger students, up to 4th grade, who do not participate in the finals, will be awarded diplomas and memorable prizes when they return to school after winter break.
As for finalists, 60 students will fly to Moscow and 49 will gather in Dnepr later this year for the last round of competition, coming from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, and Israel. The finals are a celebration in and of itself, as the finalists also enjoy an active entertainment program that Darkeinu organizes especially around the event and get a fun three-day trip to a new city.
“Someone manages to learn more and someone less, but that’s not the most important thing. In studying Jewish heritage and tradition the main focus is not the result but the journey!” said Dr. Yona Shneider, a Darkeinu mentor.
Creating the Darkeinu Olympics became possible with the support of the Or Avner fund and in particular with the help of Mr. & Mrs. Lev Leviev in 2013. Darkeinu is FSU’s Jewish learning curriculum that provides learning materials and support for homogenous Jewish heritage education across the region since 2010.