Chumash, Gemara Champs Reach Great Heights

Set to tackle some of the most pressing concerns weighing upon our Chinuch system, the Chumash and Gemara champ program at the Monsey Cheder has far-reaching aims. Last week, 60 talmidim earned a special trip for their learning.

On a bustling Thursday morning, the parking lot of Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, witnessed the arrival of a bus, ferrying a group of eager students from Cheder Chabad of Monsey. As the students disembarked, their excitement was palpable, marking the start of an extraordinary adventure for these sixty students, who earned the grand trip as the Chumash and Gemara Champs of the school.

The Chumash and Gemara champ program is a visionary program with far-reaching aims, which sets out to tackle some of the most pressing concerns weighing upon our Chinuch system. How do we ensure that our Talmidim have the tools to open a Chumash or Gemara on their own and confidently navigate the text? How can we instill in our students a love for learning that will endure far beyond their years spent in a classroom? How can we imbue them with the confidence it takes to be an independent learner?

Tailored for students from grades 1 to 8, with Chumash for grades 1-4 and Gemara for grades 5-8, the program was meticulously designed to facilitate mastery of the subjects. There are numerous levels to be passed (with a tailored amount of required Pesukim or lines that increase incrementally by grade,) and the successful completion of each level is rewarded with a prize. In order to pass each level, students must be tested on a designated amount of material by a member of the faculty, across multiple days, ensuring a thorough grasp of the material. The program culminated with an exhilarating grand trip to Six Flags for those who reached level four.

As the inaugural year comes to a close, it is clear that this groundbreaking initiative has been crowned with stunning success. Students and their parents alike extoll the unique setup and unbelievable results.

Mrs. Chana Burston, Shlucha to Orange County, NY and a Cheder parent shares: “The Chumash and Gemara Champ program was a motivating and exciting way to inspire our children to progress tremendously in Torah learning. Our sons Asher Zelig and Yaakov, grades 7 and 3, spent many hours enthusiastically learning, proud of their accomplishments and excited to receive unique and meaningful prizes. Yaakov has been using his set of Mishnayos, and Asher Zelig is proud to own the large Chitas he earned, as well as having a fantastic drone.

“Being on Shlichus in Orange County, NY, our sons have a long daily commute to Cheder and used this time, as well as many hours of free time at home, to challenge themselves to master the next level of Gemara and Chumash champ.

“My husband and I enjoyed the opportunity to engage in extra learning with Asher Zelig and Yaakov, as they progressed to achieve great levels of learning and attend the grand trip at Six Flags!

“We greatly appreciate the tremendous efforts and creativity of the Cheder Chabad staff to make this integral learning program extremely successful.”

Another parent shared similar sentiments. “It’s been an absolute pleasure hearing my son review Gemara with such a Geshmack and Chayus. He was so motivated to move up a level that he is in fact still continuing on his own and holding at level 10! That’s 500 lines of Gemara! He was so excited to receive his Seforim that it really kept him going. Thank you to Rabbi Itkin for introducing this program!”

Another benefit of the program was the appealing incentive system which drew many boys in. As the students invested time and effort, and began to taste success, they became hooked for a different reason: true enjoyment of the learning. As Levi shares, “At the beginning of the year, I thought the coolest part of the program was moving up a level to get prizes and I was hoping to go to Six Flags. By the time I got to level two, I found myself looking forward to the time I spent studying, and even though the prizes were great, the best part about moving up each level was the feeling of achievement.”

Rabbi Shaya Itkin, program coordinator, reflects fondly on the success of this year. “Seeing boys who never thought themselves capable, now having the newfound confidence to open a Chumash or Gemara and read on their own is the most amazing Nachas. Although the program was full of exciting incentives and ultimately culminated in the Six Flags trips, in my opinion, the greatest prize we have given the Talmidim is the ability and confidence to become independent learners.”

In essence, the Chumash and Gemara Champ program is a transformative journey which students traverse. Having seen such great results in just one year, it is clear that the sky is the limit for the continued implementation in years to come!

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