ICJA Students Ace National Talmud Competition
Ida Crown Jewish Academy Students take 1st and 2nd places in Women’s Talmud Contest
For the second year in a row, students at Ida Crown Jewish Academy, a Modern Orthodox Jewish high school in Skokie, IL, dominated a prestigious national Talmud competition.
2021 graduates Shira David and Simone Miller placed first and second, respectively, in the Bronka Weintraub High School Bekiut Program, a rigorous contest of women’s Talmud learning that is run annually by Yeshiva University in New York.
“We have been part of the National Talmud competition since its inception, and are proud that our students have placed in the top spots during most of those years,” notes Rabbi Leonard Matanky, Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy. Rabbi Matanky also taught the high-level girls’ Talmud class which contained this year’s winning students. “This year in particular was exciting as three girls placed in the top five nationally including first place,” from Ida Crown.
The competition covers an entire tractate, or volume, of Talmud. This year’s tractate was Moed Katan. After studying the Talmud’s text in depth, along with myriad ancient and Medieval commentaries, students took a series of five written exams over the course of the year. “That our students have performed so well is a testament to their hard work, to their teachers and to our school,” Rabbi Matanky noted.
“I’m so grateful that I was able to participate in this competition and really challenge myself to learn Gemara (Talmud) on a very high level,” notes first place winner Shira David. “This competition gave me a sense of ownership and mastery over the material that I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise.”
Second place winner Simone Miller explains “this competition enriched my Judaic knowledge and increased my passion for Gemara learning.” Both graduates plan on attending gap year programs in Jewish women’s seminaries in Jerusalem this academic year — Shira David at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim and Simone Miller at Midreshet Lindenbaum — where they each plan to continue their rigorous study of Talmud.