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JewQ International Championship Puts Jewish Learning Onstage

Shifra Reuben wasn’t always this excited about Jewish learning. But that changed when she joined 1,000 others from 25 countries at the Ckids Shabbaton.

The 12-year-old middle schooler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her brother and her parents, who immigrated to the United States from India, members of the Bene Israel Indian Jewish community. When Chabad opened in the Tri-Valley area, led by Rabbi Raleigh and Fruma Resnick, it didn’t take long for the Reubens to recognize the value it could bring to their family.

“We realized Chabad is a good place to learn about Judaism and maintain our Jewish identity and get involved in the community,” said Ron Reuben, Shifra’s father. “Our daughter has a peer group that’s Jewish; she’s getting into the Jewish roots earlier rather than later in life.”

Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302

The Resnicks soon opened a branch of CKids, the international Chabad children’s network directed by Merkos 302. They launched JewQ, which challenges Jewish children to study and be tested on Jewish knowledge over the span of four months each year. And Shifra joined.

Shifra won the silver medal and an invitation to join the live game show in Stamford, CT, where two teams of high-scoring finalists competed in a Jewish knowledge showdown in front of a live audience. But first she got to enjoy a weekend with 1000 finalists, family members and friends celebrating Shabbat together in a spirit of Jewish unity and pride.

The JewQ Championship Stage – Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302

Tali Naor is another finalist who joined the weekend, accompanied by her mom, Olga Bakayeva, and her little sister Liri. “Tali is a voracious reader; she got the book and got to work studying; she did quite a lot independently,” said Bakayeva. Tali’s hard work paid off, as she won bronze in the competition and was invited to join the weekend as well. 

“I’m constantly trying to get more for my children; that they should have the skills they have to explore more of their Judaism,” said Bakayeva. “And I’m glad we joined the Shabbaton; the kids had a great time.”

As for Shifra Reuben, the Shabbaton was a watershed moment for her connection to and enthusiasm for Judaism. And now, says her dad, “my wife and I were discussing that it may be time to send Shifra to a Jewish summer camp.”

Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302
Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302
Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302
Credit Sholem Srugo, Yossi Jerufi – Merkos 302
Comment 1
  • Suzanne Solomon

    Congratulations to Shifra. We are proud of her. It’s not easy to follow Judaism outside Israel. We appreciate all the efforts done by Sarit & Ron (Shifra’s parents) to encourage & support her to come to this position.
    Her auntie fm Israel

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