David, a former public school student who recently switched to a cheder, writes how the Chidon “opened up an entirely new reality” for him.
Hi! My name is David* and I’m in 8th grade. I live in a city with a small Jewish population, and travel every day to attend the nearby cheder.
I didn’t always go to Jewish school, though. For most of my life, I was homeschooled by my mother. Now that my family has recently come closer to Yiddishkeit, I’ve been lucky enough to switch to a Jewish school!
This year, I was introduced to Chidon. Whether or not to join Chidon was a tricky choice to make, because we get pushback from other family members regarding our Torah observance. But all of my classmates were in the program, so I decided to join as well. The experience was absolutely incredible!
When I first got the Yahadus book, I didn’t understand what to do. Thankfully, my friends and base commander guided me through the process, and I got started. Whenever I opened the book, a whole new world opened up for me. I studied for hours, staying up till 10 p.m. every night before the test. I was determined to complete the testing material (…and couldn’t help but read the fascinating sidebars along the way!)
The first test came, and I felt very confident B”H. When my grade came back, I was elated. I passed!
I continued to study through regular school days, winter break, and family vacation times, and made it all the way to the final test!
The Chidon ceremony was a special moment for me. I was so proud to be given my medal and plaque—awards that I will always treasure!—and I feel so lucky to be the first member of my family in Chidon. Sharing my achievements with my brothers was a big deal for me, as they look up to me and are now inspired to do the same, no matter what barriers get in the way.
I also earned an awesome drone, and spent a thrilling day with my friends on our regional Chidon trip!
Chidon opened up an entirely new reality for me. It allowed me to gain knowledge of mitzvos in a deep yet practical way, while feeling like I was part of something so much bigger than myself. Because I’m in 8th grade, my class learned the last book this year, but if I could do Chidon again, I would in a second. This is the best program that any child could get into!
And for myself, even though I officially graduated from Chidon, its effects are far from over.
As I said before, Chidon was not just an experience for me, but a lifestyle that I brought home to my family, too. Since the trip and awards ceremony, my family has been inspired to study Mishnah Torah together on Shabbos. I continue to play with the Chidon Kop Cards that I received, and I include my two brothers in the games. They are not yet part of the program, but they are gaining so much just from playing together.
We still face many obstacles toward leading a fully Jewish life, but Chidon has given me a ton of strength and hope along the way. And bringing Chidon home with me has been a true blessing; a leap of positive change for all of us.
I would not be where I am today without Chidon.
*name changed to protect privacy