Saturday, 19 Nisan, 5784
  |  April 27, 2024

Menahel Responds to the Chidon Controversy

A Menahel of a Chabad School responds to the open letter by a parent about the high cost of registering children in the Chidon learning competition and subsequent comments: "The writer makes some very valid and strong points. Let's try, however, to focus on our circle of influence and help make things better." Full Story

Mrs. Kayla Polter, 80, OBM

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Nice, but
February 7, 2023 10:21 pm

…very one-sided. The entire program could be retained, nobody’s arguing that it’s all together a bad idea, but it is high time for there to be a little, teeny tiny bit of respect for parents with regards to the flood of prizes and super high trip price.

If the trip really costs more than twice what they charge, we’re talking about 600 for one day. That’s ridiculous.

I just read this very thoughtful article,
Reply to  Nice, but
February 7, 2023 11:11 pm

you obviously did not read the entire post. The writer said just that….read it again and the entire post.

Reply to  I just read this very thoughtful article,
February 7, 2023 11:30 pm

… you’re right, I did read it but glossed over the end a bit. Kudos to the author and my apologies for replying too fast.

Reply to  Nice, but
February 7, 2023 11:17 pm

Nobody said to cancel the chidon!
But they don’t have to turn it into a huge profit business!
No way a trip costa $600 when they have so many kids plus the huge amounts of sponsors.
They don’t buy their goods from the cheapest place but from family they want to support. And end up paying more.
They can cut their budget by 75 percent and still have a great program.

OMG You have no idea what things cost today
Reply to  Agree
February 7, 2023 11:28 pm

The trips are over the top. But i reached out to a school to see what the actual trip cost per child. $120!! besides all the extras. Most parents opt to pay the amount of $200. To accuse TH of profiting of this, is SO disheartening for the people working like crazy for OUR children. Such a lack of הכרת הטוב. Yes the price is to high. The writer suggest to eliminate the trips entirely. But to accuse them of profiting is to much…

Sorry to break the news
Reply to  OMG You have no idea what things cost today
February 8, 2023 8:13 am

I know first hand where they purchase their items from. And I know that they were offered the same items for a lot less but refused.
Don’t comment unless you know.
There are a lot of wasted spending at TH not just with the chidon but all over.

a parent
February 7, 2023 10:27 pm

Dear Menahel,
You are right there is a big gain in knowledge here for the children who participate etc, but when YOU DON’T HAVE THE MONEY YOU JUST DON’T HAVE.What is one supposed to do? Beg? Borrow? Steal? Become a Charity case?

He wrote that the price needs to be lowered
Reply to  a parent
February 7, 2023 11:12 pm

Read the ENTIRE post.

Read the instructions
Reply to  a parent
February 7, 2023 11:15 pm

When you signed your kid up, chidon made it clear that it would cost , if the cost is way beyond your budget then don’t sign your kid up.

It doesn’t work that way with kids
Reply to  Read the instructions
February 8, 2023 11:26 am

Chidon is built on incentives that the kids are lured in for. Plus immense peer pressure to join.
TH marketing of Chidon in their ralllies that kids have to watch in school, in weekly hachayil posters on school walls etc. etc.
As a parent of seven it’s very hard to keep your children from not joining and feel left out.

not send your kid
Reply to  a parent
February 7, 2023 11:54 pm

nobody is forcing you

Oh come on...
Reply to  not send your kid
February 8, 2023 8:40 am

No one is focusing anyone to do anything and yet everyone complains. Dont you do the same?!🙄

Reply to  not send your kid
February 8, 2023 11:09 am

Really? I can really tell my 10 year old, sorry, Mommy is sick, she can’t work, so you can’t do Chidon. When all the other kids in her class are doing it. When there is already more than enough stress in the house as it is. Or should I tell her, just don’t pass the last test, because we can’t pay for the trip anyway?
On the other hand I saw a lot of learning, a lot of striving from my kids. They worked hard.

It doesn’t work that way with kids
Reply to  not send your kid
February 8, 2023 11:22 am

When there is a strong pressure – peer pressure, prices pressure etc.

Seminaries, Camps, Yeshivas are the bigger problem
Reply to  a parent
February 8, 2023 9:18 am

Your comment seems misplaced. The real issue is the “Non-profit” schools and camps that are charging over the top? Why negate this one amazing program, while ignoring the real issue? How to expect parents to pay $20,000 per child for tuition??? Where are the hearts of these “directors”? Do they know the pain this is causing our generation? Do they know that they are causing a Mental Health Crisis in our community? The “Non-profit” institutions are causing damage for generations רחמנא ליצלן. And there is no one opening their mouth for fear of retribution… This must be addressed by all… Read more »

There needs to be an article on this
Reply to  Seminaries, Camps, Yeshivas are the bigger problem
February 8, 2023 12:49 pm

This is another important topic that needs to be discussed.

A teacher
February 7, 2023 10:28 pm

I applaud you for recognizing that there should be a change and there is no need for such over the top incentives. Lets take both parts of the sicha and create real change! Not just saying that its great our children are learning.

Missed the point
February 7, 2023 10:41 pm

The general feeling from the comments of the original article, was not bashing TH and the incredible work they do…
The issue is the cost…
Keep up the good work, but get rid of the sweaters and swag, make a simple trip that costs under $50 and you can still have the whole excitement…

Reply to  Missed the point
February 8, 2023 9:04 am

There’s no such thing as a trip that only costs 50$ nowadays. Just the food and the busses is 50$.

Why coach busses?
Reply to  Realistic
February 8, 2023 10:44 am

Use school busses. cheaper and keeps the money in the shchuna

Either or
Reply to  Realistic
February 8, 2023 11:27 am

Either lower big time the prices or take away the trip. In life you can’t have it all

Reply to  Either or
February 8, 2023 3:23 pm

Trip, game show and food is enough

Reply to  Missed the point
February 8, 2023 11:13 am

I think the sweaters were very important to my kids. They didn’t expect to win a trip. But they wanted to have a sweater. In the end a weaker student who worked very hard won a trip. A more confident student didn’t, but she will have a sweater. Possibly the trip shouldn’t be so grand.

Grateful & Disappointed
February 7, 2023 10:54 pm

My child has a very hard time absorbing information, but at the same time is a very hard worker, and puts a lot of effort into learning. We the parents learned with our child for Chidon, every night, taught, learned, reviewed, and pushed, so our child can fulfill their goal. Our child made it just barely, by 1%, into the trip, and the happiness that our child had when the test results came back – made it all worthwhile. That’s why I am grateful. That it gave my child a goal, and a few months of learning. The $300 dollars… Read more »

Multiple tracks
Reply to  Grateful & Disappointed
February 7, 2023 11:04 pm

There are multiple tracks. The highest track is for the vast majority of kids a challenge and they would need to work for it.
Much nachas from all your children’s.

black sheep
Reply to  Multiple tracks
February 8, 2023 9:56 pm

And most kids dont to that trak cous the prize is almost the same, what sould happen is that the thecher of that child desids what track is mandotory for him based on his abilety (that it should’nt be esey but not way to hard) and the to be the same for each track

Chidon changed their model
Reply to  Grateful & Disappointed
February 7, 2023 11:12 pm

For exactly this sort of situation – there are 4 tracks and very few kids pass the highest track

Highest iyun track
Reply to  Chidon changed their model
February 7, 2023 11:50 pm

Schools should be deciding which kids have to pass the IYUN track in order to qualify for the trip
So that every kid has to actually sweat abit in order to be rewarded
The way it is now, no one has to do iyun unless they want a trophy, which most kids dont even bother to try for

Our job as parents
Reply to  Grateful & Disappointed
February 7, 2023 11:18 pm

Its our job and responsibility as parents to teach our children resiliency. Every child is different and what’s good for one may not be good for the other. We dont tell our boy who is really athletic and good at sports not to play sports because our other child is bad at sports and he will feel bad. Yes, those very gifted children can wing anything. However it does not mean they will be really good at anything. Because they become accustomed to not working hard. Very few valuable things in life come with little work.

Another benefit 😀
February 7, 2023 10:58 pm

It’s also helped my boys improve their English reading skills 😀.

Chidon is International
Reply to  Another benefit 😀
February 7, 2023 11:33 pm

It helped my son improve his Hebrew reading skills.

Kol hakavod!
February 7, 2023 11:02 pm

Thank you for this eloquent response! I was quite upset that chidon was bashed on a community forum (and with so many negative comments!). Thank you for taking the time to stand up for the beautiful mosad, Shimmy Weinbaum, and the good they bring to the entire Chabad community!

it’s not a controversy
February 7, 2023 11:10 pm

We all hear you, we don’t know why you want to be unnamed after being a menahel for over 20 year?!?

This reply is very one sided and not answering all the issues people had.

I think tzivos hashem should be up front and honest with us, how many of these 3 articles did tzivos hashem write themselves? All 3??!!

The writer asked not to skim, read to the end.
Reply to  it’s not a controversy
February 7, 2023 11:22 pm

you obviously did not read the entire post. The writer said just that….read it again and the entire post.

Dear Mr. “It’s not a controversy”
Reply to  it’s not a controversy
February 7, 2023 11:58 pm

If he had signed his name, it wouldn’t have made any difference to you. You didn’t read the whole thing.

He addressed the issue from each of the various perspectives- from the parents, educators and yes, from the perspective of Shimmy Weinbaum. Take another look. His main point is the one you’re making – chidon can accomplish without all the expensive ‘glitz’.

It’s just that he first provides you the background of what chidon has added to the landscape so you can evaluate the costs with the benefits.

it’s not a controversy
Reply to  Dear Mr. “It’s not a controversy”
February 8, 2023 9:46 am

It’s still not a controversy. I read it it’s very simple. Seems like you’re in the in, is there something you know we don’t?

February 7, 2023 11:28 pm

I totally agree with everything that was said. No child should be pushed. I also think it should not be for the trip. They should deserve a prize for how much they learned to their ability.

The books...
February 7, 2023 11:44 pm

Are easy and pleasant to read?
The books are not reader friendly at all! Colorful yes. Full of mistakes, who buys a book full of errors? Who makes a grand contest and tests children on a book so full of inaccuracies that they have to check a second book for correct information?
Besides, my daughter has had to ask me the definitions of so many hard vocabulary words. It was not written for this age level.

Good points!
February 8, 2023 12:09 am

If the most costly part is the expense of a trip then eliminate it and find other ways to motivate because it is better to have as many children as possible have the opportunity to participate.

Honestly, I think the children enjoy the Chidon just to challenge themselves and bring nachas to their family and themselves. It woukd be best to cme up with creative incentives that aren’t so costly.

Yasher Koach to the Menahel who took time to write the letter.

Thank you
February 8, 2023 12:13 am

I am so greatful to you for writing this article. More than anything else. I was so hurt to see the way Tzivos Hashem was being bashed. What they have done for our children no one has. They have literally changed this generation of children. The Hachayol Magazine The World Wide Tehillim Club Their Tanya Baal Peh Program The Rallies The Medals and Ranks The Weeky Raffles The Missions The chidon These are just some of the amazing things they do We all know the impact that these programs have had on our families. And I was and I am… Read more »

Out of touch
Reply to  Thank you
February 8, 2023 12:44 pm

You are calling people wicked when the complaint was not being able to afford the expenses of chidon

February 8, 2023 1:43 am

My kids really feel the strain of finding hundreds of extra dollars for their children to participate, but they manage. Somehow. Because it is important and my grandchildren thrive on challenges. BUT….when the kinus costs $36 per shliach/shlucha AS PER THE REBBE’S INSTRUCTIONS, it’s obvious that there is the capacity for huge subsidies. Why can’t Tzivos Hashem also get sponsorship? Even if it’s on a sliding scale (2 kids get discount A, 4 get discount B… and even cheaper for Shluchim) The original writer was correct in her criticisms of the pricing, but surely, Tzivos Hashem can do something…if they… Read more »

New Yom Tov
February 8, 2023 1:53 am

Purim, Pesach, Chidon…
There are so many donors out there. Why cant the Chidon get donors to help lower the cost from $900, for many families, when you add on the flights…to a more reasonable 50 per child?????

A true mother of the Chidon
February 8, 2023 5:11 am

It’s honestly sad to see so many people complaining like for real the price is fine if you don’t have enough money figure it out fundraise etc don’t bash this wonderful amazing project as a mother of four kids in the Chidon I’ll say to you MMM make more money

Out of touch
Reply to  A true mother of the Chidon
February 8, 2023 12:40 pm

Have humility

Don't agree
February 8, 2023 5:12 am

The most honorable menahel of twenty years (assuming that part isn’t made up) possibly hasn’t cultivated in his school a challenging learning environment, for if he would – any outside program would be a disturbance to his shlichus: teaching kids basic MISHNAYOS and GEMARA SKILLS.

Kids that don’t aquire these skills in cheder are set to failure in mesivta and zal.

You have obviously never learned the Chidon materi
Reply to  Don't agree
February 8, 2023 9:37 am

It’s not a skill building project. It’s broad Knowledge in areas of torah that is not given to kids in any school.

That's the point
Reply to  You have obviously never learned the Chidon materi
February 8, 2023 2:44 pm

“It’s not a skill building project. It’s broad Knowledge in areas of torah that is not given to kids in any school” – at the expense of the skill building project called school!

Now let’s be honest: which one is more important long term?

February 8, 2023 5:20 am

First let me state, the program wasn’t motivated by greed. The program was conceived in nobility. Having said that, it has gone off the rails. Nobody would say before chidon existed that it would be a nice idea to start a program to make Rambam appealing to kids at the cost of hundreds per child. There is a budget that is reasonable for a project, and obviously from the parental resentment in the comments, the reasonable amount isn’t hundreds of dollars. It is also turning parents and children into shnorers which I doubt the Rebbe or Rambam would receive nachas… Read more »

Missed the point
February 8, 2023 8:04 am

No normal contest makes you pay for prizes.

February 8, 2023 8:05 am

Isnt that what our schools are for? Isnt this why we sent our children to chabad schools in the first place???? “As a result of this partnership, more Talmidim graduating elementary schools and entering Mesivtas are (to name a few): – saying the entire Tehilim on Shabbos Mevorchim – learning Chitas and Rambam – able to watch a full Sicha or two, and in some cases an entire Farbrengen of the Rebbe (way better than we did in person by the actual rallies) – know more about ימי חב”ד and have a Chassidishe חיות in them – have a vast… Read more »

No, that’s what parents should be doing!
Reply to  But...
February 8, 2023 9:31 am

And Tzivos Hashem is conjunction with schools are doing what PARENTS should be doing. These values should come first from the homes. Since there is an absence of that schools need to take the place of the parents in these areas and TH is a great help to them.

לקו”ש חלק ט”ז, כ’ מרחשון
February 8, 2023 8:12 am

Why are people upset with this OP? The menhal is basically saying the same thing as earlier comments but with a less harsh tone. It boils down to whether TH will listen to his message, if they do (scale it down, make the prizes seforim based instead of glitz and glam) everyone will be happy. I think TH is running out of money and sponsors and will have no choice but to scale it down after this parent revolt. When they do, they’ll be able to point a bunch of disappointed children here and say it was a community effort.… Read more »

February 8, 2023 9:13 am

You get what you pay for. This isn’t the hitzonim where they’re subsidized by wealthy JFED donors. No one’s making a fortune running these programs. They do an outstanding job. Rather than cheaping out on your kids find other non-essential expenses to cut.

February 8, 2023 9:16 am

If you don’t sign your name, I’m gonna assume you’re a highschooler trying to make waves

Thank you Chidon!
February 8, 2023 9:16 am

Personally, my kids would not do this for a sefer.
I think you can start the trips in 6th grade because when they’re younger the prizes are enough. (not sefarim/actual prizes).

I say this as someone whose rent check cleared this month using funds from my overdraft protection account.
I feel chidon is worth it.

probably a better idea to do the registration drive after the 15th and not while registering for camp.

Because pepole are too distracted to actually read
February 8, 2023 9:32 am

People can’t read more then a few line tweet these days….

February 8, 2023 10:23 am

Shimmy Weinbaum is a tzadik not Noach
Camp Directors are millionaires.


Chidon and Camp make the children good frum Jews who love learning, love Torah and want to be a Jew and Proud

Yeshiva at least in my town
Spends the most time of year for the most money demotivating children especially מצויינים and all the opposite
They make exception for Shluchim kids who are risking their lives and rich kids.


Only in chabad
February 8, 2023 10:33 am

Only we plan a huge expensive program and then figure out how to pay for it later. Like the mitzvah tanks, like someone above said. Hello, part of planning is budgeting. You plan within your means. Do you know what ends up happening? Every fundraiser which are for good causes (chidon, hachnasas kallah, yeshivos, shifra and puah, shuls, orphans r”l, etc) we end up fundraising off each other! How much money can you raise from the same people again and again? I would love to give to all but how far will my $18 go to each? My friend’s husband… Read more »

Menahel of what?
February 8, 2023 10:48 am

Thanks for this amazing response, it honestly leaves more questions than answers…… and opens several cans of worms of which I don’t want to bring up. But firstly as a mechanech for over 20 years u should be proud of yourself and mention ur name!!! That’s if ur actually successful at ur position, and if ur not than u shouldn’t be writing….. But for all know this is a slight response from a menahel – of tzivis hahsem……. but honestly at this point there should have been an official response, or notice from tzivios hashem, chidon office, chidon headquarters what… Read more »

February 8, 2023 10:50 am


February 8, 2023 10:52 am

On a whole nother note, the local girls schools in crown heights (I don’t know regarding the boys schools) did not want to be part of the chidon for it takes away way much from their learning, creates too much pressure and anxiety amongst the students, and they have asked to please keep as a community contest with test and trips and prizes and everything taking place after school and not on school premises.

But their idea was rejected by the directors of the chidon

Keep up your unbelievable work
February 8, 2023 11:05 am

The controversy is the yeter hora who doesn’t like the Incredible amount of learning that is taking place from yoddishe kinderlach

Out of touch
Reply to  Keep up your unbelievable work
February 8, 2023 12:30 pm

The controversy is money. The yetzer harah is money

there should be a trip or shabbaton at the end
February 8, 2023 11:33 am

i think the prizes which they “force” you to get in order ro register need to go
they are pretty much the same price or more than if we would get it ourselves, and often the child is not even interested in them

Few simple questions
February 8, 2023 5:47 pm

– who appointed tzivos Hashem to mix into curriculum – who are on the vaad of rabonim / mechanchim that create programs and makes sure they are lefi hakavanah. – what happend to kids learning in school followed by homework depending on the age and a mishnayos / Tanya baal peh program. – The very fact that the word chidon isn’t English indicates it isn’t something that was ever done in thing English speaking world. Where did it come from? – who decided it’s important to learn random information about all mitzvos? When the Rebbe instituted the learning of Rambam… Read more »