Thursday, January 23, 2020

This past Sunday, the Torah Champs experienced the best of Jewish Brooklyn. The full-day trip was packed with hands-on experiential learning, delicious food and thrilling amusement rides. Torah Champs, with over 100 participants—fourth- and fifth-grade boys and girls attending Yeshivat Noam, Yavneh Academy, RYNJ, BPY, Breuers and Chabad Palisades Academy—creates community around meaningful Torah learning. The trip was designed to celebrate the accomplishments of the children who have learned, in depth and in detail, the first 23 Mitzvot of the Taryag Mitzvot, the foundational Mitzvot that apply to every Jew.

We started our day with a guided tour of the Jewish Children’s Museum. The participants were immersed in the creative hands-on exhibits, which brought the learning to life. The students were privileged to meet Rabbi Zalman Glick, the editor-in-chief of the Yahadus book that they have been learning from. He answered the students’ questions and he gave them the opportunity to display their deep and broad knowledge of the material. As a gift, he gave all the participants a beautiful Siddur with an easy-to-understand translation.

The next stop was a visit to a Sofer where the students saw, touched and felt the components and became familiarized with the process of making Tefillin and Mezuzot. For lunch the students were treated to mouth-watering delicacies at Izzy’s Smokehouse. The pulled brisket sandwich was the most popular item!

After experiential learning and feasting, it was time for thrills and spins at Luna Park. From looping roller coasters to the slingshot, the boys and girls enjoyed some of the world’s most exhilarating amusement rides.

The Torah Champs are now preparing for the grand Chidon, a tournament and game show where the students will display their knowledge and celebrate their accomplishments. At the Jewish Children’s Museum, Rabbi Glick asked the students: “If you were upset with someone and you then decided to be genuinely nice to the person, how many Mitzvot have you fulfilled?” Close to 50 hands shot up and the students started listing the Mitzvot: 1. Ahavat Yisrael; 2. To be like Hashem: Lehidamot lidarkei Hashem; 3. Not hating your brother in your heart; 4. Not taking revenge; 5. Not bearing a grudge; 6. If he or she is a Ger, you get another Mitzvah of loving a Ger; 7. If he or she is also an orphan you get another Mitzvah; 8. If the person is a Talmid Chacham you would fulfill the Mitzvah of Kavod Chachamim.

The trip was an unforgettable experience for the children, but most importantly—the learning will last a lifetime! At a young age these girls and boys are setting a foundation which will help them as they journey through their learning of Torah Sheba’al Peh. Currently, they are learning the Mitzvot, which explain how to connect to Hashem and His Torah and how to develop sensitivity and concern towards the needs of others. They will have the opportunity to learn the rest of the Mitzvot in future sessions of Torah Champs.