60 Jewish school students from Russia, Belarus, and Israel came together in Moscow this week for the regional final round of the “Darkeinu Olympics 5778” contest.
Darkeinu Olympics is the largest Jewish studies competition throughout the FSU launched in 2013 by FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ educational fund.
“Throughout its five-year history, Darkeinu Olympics enabled thousands of Jewish school students to proudly demonstrate their knowledge, put their skills to the test, and in the process connect to many other students from across the region and discover the fun of their shared Jewish heritage,” said Mrs. Sarah Vernick, Darkeinu’s informal education projects coordinator.
Making it to the final this year wasn’t easy – out of 1,340 students from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Russia, Belarus and Israel, who participated in the first round, about a half made it to the second, and only a small amount became finalists in the two regional finals: one held in Dnieper at the end of March and the other in Moscow this week.
The final stretched for three days: the first two dedicated to a rigorous and emotional competition, which determined the winners in three age categories and the last day put aside for an enticing cultural and entertainment program that took the students on a tour of Russia’s capital and to the city’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.
The finalists arrived with their parents and teachers, who rooted for them during the competition and provided emotional support. Also coming to support the finalists were the President of the Federation of the Jewish Communities of the CIS, philanthropist Mr. Levi Leviev and the chief rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berel Lazar.
“I came here with three students, and all of them took winning places, I’m very proud of them!” said Ms. Asya Maskel, a Jewish heritage teacher from Samara. “Thanks to all the organizers and participants, who help make this project truly special and inspirational!”
The winners receive valuable prizes each year, and this year was no exception: the goodies included hover-boards, selfie-printers, a battery-charging backpack and many other enjoyable gadgets.
And the winners were: Daria Akimova from Sevastopol, Sofia Shapiro, also from Sevastopol and Milena Gnedkova from Samara. 2nd and 3rd places were also awarded to students from Orenburg, Perm, Novosibirsk, and Saratov.
Darkeinu Olympics is a project of Darkeinu – the leading Jewish studies educational curriculum that is implemented throughout the FSU. It is supported by the Or Avner fund, established by Mr. Levi Leviev and his wife Olga, as well as other partners.