France is the latest country to join the popular JewQ competition launched by CKids, with over 200 French students learning more about their heritage.
With colorful balloons, costumed characters, and a juggling magician, Chabad of the 13th District, France, looked more like a deluxe birthday party than an academic competition last Sunday. But that’s what the hundreds of local Jewish kids, laughing and singing Jewish songs, love so much about being part of JewQ. “It’s a chance to learn about Judaism in a motivating and exciting way,” says Rabbi Israel Abitboul.
Earlier this year, Rabbi Israel Assouline and Mrs. Beila Abitboul, both Shluchim for French Youth, started JewQ as a pilot program with over 200 kids at 6 Chabad houses from around the country, including Paris and its district, Montpellier and the Province.
Sunday’s award ceremony—besides for the magician—included an interactive JewQ competition. Children exercised their Torah knowledge by competing against each other for the JewQ Championship Title.
Each participating child received a personal letter with a gift and award. An Additional 20 kids received special recognition for winning the championship title with significant prizes.
Under the direction of Rabbi Elie Assouline, Tsivot Hachem France is already fielding requests from many more Chabad houses. “Everyone wants to be a part of the JewQ revolution,” he says.
As part of JewQ, students learn the fundamentals of Jewish life, taking three tests along with a final exam covering all material. Each grade focuses on a different topic, ranging from Jewish calendar to Jewish heroes. But what all students—and parents—have in common is an appreciation for knowledge gained.
“We developed JewQ as a solution to the deteriorating state of basic Jewish education amongst children who weren’t in Jewish day schools. Jewish kids are growing up today oblivious to the most basic elements of Yiddishkeit,” Says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, the office at Chabad Headquarters which is constantly innovating new ways to engage more Jews. “We knew the answer had to be fun and exciting enough to motivate children to study, so JewQ was born,” explains Kotlarsky.
France is just one country that’s part of JewQ’s expansion into global territory. After a hugely successful launch in Australia last year—with hundreds of kids joining in over a dozen cities, Australia plans to relaunch for the second year with 300 kids. “We designed the JewQ curriculum to be engaging for all Jewish kids, no matter where they are from,” says Rabbi Mendel Raskin, Director of JewQ International and forerunner of its global expansion.
This August, 250 kids will start to learn the newly translated Living Jewish books in South America. And just in time for the upcoming school year, the Living Jewish JewQ textbook has been translated into Ukrainian, ready to launch yet another international JewQ competition.
“The whole purpose of CKids is to give Jewish children an appreciation for Yiddishkeit,” says Rabbi Zalmy Lowenthal, director of Ckids. “We’re not going to stop until every city that needs JewQ has JewQ.”
Three years ago, the JewQ program launched with 1,000 participants. Since then, over 4,000 kids have learned Torah in their free time as part of the international Torah competition. “JewQ is only getting bigger and better,” says Loewenthal.
To learn more about bringing JewQ to your French Chabad house, visit tsivothachem.fr