An exciting extra-curricular academic challenge was launched in Jewish schools across the FSU – the first round of Darkeinu “Olympics” 2017, an annual contest determining the champions of Jewish studies in the region. The contest, which includes three rounds and participation prizes, aims to stimulate interest in the subject and raise its prestige in countries traditionally bent on academic excellence. 2,000 pupils entered the first stage.
Darkeinu Olympics are conducted by FJC’s Jewish studies curriculum program, ‘Darkeinu‘. The program has been developed specifically for Jewish heritage studies in the post-Soviet countries with a detailed learning curriculum for every grade. It is currently implemented in over 165 Jewish educational institutions of various backgrounds in seven countries. Students from 2-11 grades in all the schools that study the curriculum can participate in the contest.
“What we often see in the FSU, is that parents tend to only place emphasis on general academic subjects, while all others slide by,” said Sarah Vernick, Darkeinu‘s coordinator. “Our Olympics raise the plank for parents, teachers and students alike. The contest helps them see Jewish heritage subjects in a serious light and think about them in more depth.”
The contest is divided into three rounds, with appropriate age groups for all the participants. The first and second rounds can be completed successfully with just the curriculum knowledge, Vernick said, while the final round requires extracurricular studying. Olympics’ final is a two-fold event that will be held in Russia and Ukraine in the spring, and so all those who make it to third round already get to enjoy the trip and an exciting program that will be awaiting them there.
This is the forth year Darkeinu is running the contest, with over one hundred finalists last year. The results of the first round will be announced in February, after all the participating schools, some of which have different learning schedules, will complete it.