Jewish Olympics: High Level of Jewish Education Unseen in the FSU for Generations


Out of the 1,639 students who participated in the Second Annual Jewish Olympics, a test of Jewish heritage knowledge, 60 finalists were flown from across the Former Soviet Union to Israel for the final stage of the competition in Jerusalem.

Students in the 90 FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ Schools across the Former Soviet Union, studied for the competition for months. The systems unique year round curriculum, Darkeinu, was created by the Or Avner Foundation for Education,  under the chairmanship of Mr. Lev Leviev. “Darkeinu” teaches a full Jewish education from Torah to Israeli history and is taught across the region from Ukraine to Kazakhstan;Estonia to Azerbaijan.

The first round of the competition was a written exam for 5th through 10th grades. It then progressed to 500 finalists simultaneously answering questions on a electronic system. The third and final stage, with 60 finalists, took place in the heart of Jerusalem.

These 60 students were surprised with a four day whirlwind trip Israel to extensively tour the country through hiking and exploring local attractions including Jerusalem’s Old City, the Tower of David, the Western Wall, Masada, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea, the Judean Desert and much more.

The trip ended with the final stage of the competition taking place on an auditorium stage in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem. The finalists had each been assigned a Jewish calendar month to research and write a 1,500 word report on.  They were then tested on this knowledge impressing the judges and drawing comparisons between Israel and FSU education. The competition continued its technology theme by handing each participant  a tablet and through a series of interactive videos answering the next round of difficult questions.

“It is unbelievable to see the extensive amount of knowledge these children have in Jewish heritage. It is amazing when you think where Jewish education was in the region just a generation ago,”  said Dr. Schneider, one of the judges.

With the competition down to just 6 participants they continued on to the final oral exam, a comparison round. Students were handed a card with 2 ideas, personalities, or events written on it. They then were challenged to explain each subject and then the relationship between them.

After showing an in-depth knowledge of their Jewish heritage the winners for each group were announced: Arena Gustrakinha – Saratov,Russia; Partuna Malka – Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine; Bella Diakova – Moscow,Russia

The winners  received an array of electronic prizes from phones to laptops as well as medals and certificates.

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