Michigan Supreme Court Judge Presides Over JewQ Championship

Ahead of the International JewQ Championship finale in New York, numerous regional Championships have taken place including one judged by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein and Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov.

In anticipation of this Sunday’s International JewQ Championship finale in New York, numerous regional Championships have taken place. For one hardworking group of kids, the competition was judged by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein together with Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov of The Shul – Chabad Lubavitch. In a unique blend of legal acumen and cultural celebration, Justice Bernstein lent his judicial expertise to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids.

The event, hosted by community leaders Rabbi Yishai and Rochel Leah Eliefja of JEMS at The Shul, along with Rabbi Menachem and Chana Caytak of Chabad of Troy, the championship brought together members of various Chabad houses in the area to celebrate the accomplishments of their respective Hebrew School students.

For Justice Bernstein, memorizing trivia is nothing new. As a legally blind person and Michigan’s first and only blind Supreme Court Justice, Bernstein has achieved remarkable success in the legal and political fields. Serving as a great role model for the kids, he has risen above physical limitations, spent hours memorizing facts to become an accomplished lawyer advocating for the special needs community, and ran 22 marathons before being elected as the State Supreme Justice.

A proud Jew and active member of the community, Justice Bernstein complimented the JewQ participants on their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and reminded the participants that they were all winners. Hours of study and memorizing Jewish trivia is no easy feat.

“It was an honor to have such an esteemed guest Judge at the regional championships in Michigan, and we’re sure the children will learn a lot from his example,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of CKids’ umbrella organization, Merkos 302. “All the kids have put a tremendous amount of effort into this program, and no doubt it will stand them in good stead as a foundation for continued Torah study and active Jewish leaders in the future,”

Representing the Detroit community at the JewQ International Championships this Sunday are the highest test scorers from the regional championship. Syler Van-Pelt will be representing JEMS together with five other JEMS students and Nora Akselrod from Chabad of Troy and competing against children from over 250 cities and 25 countries in a global celebration of Jewish learning and heritage watched by thousands worldwide.

This year’s competition has added significance at a time when many Jewish children in public schools encounter challenges to their identity, including antisemitism. The JewQ initiative, led by Rabbi Mendel Raskin of CKids International at Merkos 302, serves as an empowering experience. The competition is designed to bolster confidence through mastery of Jewish knowledge, turning education into an exciting, gamified experience.

“In today’s environment, where Jewish children face undue challenges to their identity, JewQ is not just a competition; it’s a declaration of pride in who we are,” says Rabbi Yishai Eliefja, Director of JEMS at The Shul – Chabad Lubavitch. “It’s about empowering our youth with the confidence that comes from deep-rooted knowledge and understanding of their heritage.

Visit ckids.org/jewsq to tune in virtually or purchase tickets for Sunday’s event. 

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