Students’ hard work has finally paid off with a fun-filled weekend in Crown Heights this past Shabbos.
Thursday, 343 female finalists from around the world descended upon the Jewish Children’s Museum, ready to begin the legendary weekend of fun and excitement that the Chidon Sefer Hamitzvos has become. They were divided up into six teams: “Yad Hachazaka,” “Sefer Hamitzvos,” “Peirush Hamishnayos,” “Moreh Nevuchim,” “Sha’alos U’teshuvos,” and “Iggeres Harambam,” and given ID cards to match.
Head staff welcomed each participant with packages full of goodies and Chidon sweatshirts. Counselors greeted their teams with warm smiles. “It feels like such a big responsibility, to have such powerful children in my charge,” says counselor Faigy Sorkin. “Just to think of how much they had to work and how many hours they studied to get here—it’s amazing!” Each of the finalists representing their schools needed to pass two qualifying tests to be eligible to join the Shabbaton.
Chayolim started off their first Shabbaton day like Chassidim—with a spirited davening in 770. After a satisfying breakfast, students took the final test, the determining factor of who won a gold, silver, or bronze medal. “Even if I don’t win, I’m proud of myself for making it here,” says Bunie Schwei, a contestant from Luton, England.
Then chayolim prepared for a trip to the Ohel, to give nachas to the Rebbe. “Listening to the chayolim sing niggunim together the entire ride was heartwarming,” says head counselor Chaya Mushka Abrams.
The chayolim and staff were then treated out to a a jumping session at Bounce trampoline sports, a barbeque in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and then a great time at an indoor-outdoor waterpark rented out specially for these girls. “These kids have worked incredibly hard to make it this far,” says Rabbi Shimmy Weinbaum, Chidon coordinator and Director of Chayolei Tzivos Hashem. “They deserve all this and more!”
After a long day of fun on Thursday, the excitement continued with a packed Friday schedule. Contestants davened in 770 before having a filling breakfast with their teammates. A trip to ice skating followed, then bowling and a pizza lunch. Girls were picked up in double-decker buses and taken to the Ice Cream House before coming back to Crown Heights to prepare for Shabbos.
Friday night was spent with host families in Crown Heights, and Shabbos morning began another inspiring, fun-filled day of the Chidon Shabbaton. Girls met in 770 for Shabbos Mevorchim Tehilim and mezonos, then Shacharis and time in the Rebbe’s house. Afterward all Chidon contestants enjoyed a big meal together in Beis Rivkah Lefferts with chayusdike singing and divrei Torah.
Chidon skits were created by each team after lunch, incorporating mitzvos from the Yahadus books that contestants have been studying for months. Points were given to each team based on their performances’ creativity and content. After shalosh seudos and seder niggunim, contestants headed back to their host families for good night’s’ sleep to prepare for the culmination of the Chidon Shabbaton: the grand game show competition!