Silver trophy winner Levi Bitton, 11, and medal winner Mendel Bitton, 14, with their father, Rabbi Binyomin Bitton, director of Chabad of Downtown Vancouver, at the International Chidon Sefer Hamitzvos. (photo from Chabad of Downtown)
Seven months of diligent study came full circle April 7 for Mendel and Levi Bitton of Vancouver and more than 1,200 of their peers at the final round of the annual International Chidon Sefer Hamitzvos in Brooklyn, N.Y. Of close to 10,000 children from more than 150 schools worldwide who participated in this year’s competition, Mendel and Levi earned two of the highest scores on three rigorous exams, qualifying them for a trip to Brooklyn to participate in the final tournament. Also earlier this month, more than 1,400 girls participated in their own similar showdown.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, OBM, encouraged children to thoroughly study all of the Torah’s 613 commandments as enumerated and elucidated by Maimonides in his Sefer Hamitzvot. His followers have taken to his words, hosting an annual chidon (contest) that challenges children to study large volumes of detailed texts delving into the intricacies of each mitzvah, and compete for trophies, medals and prizes.
Organized by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, together with Tzivos Hashem, its children’s division, the Chidon Sefer Hamitzvos sees thousands of children ages 9-13 staying late at their respective schools to study the mitzvot with their classmates and friends. As finalists, Mendel and Levi flew to New York, where they enjoyed four days of trips and competitive games that tested their knowledge, and concluded with a grand on-stage tournament and award ceremony.
In the final moments, the tension rose and the crowd went silent as the emcee opened the long-awaited envelopes and announced the trophy winners and champions of the final exam.
We are proud to report that Levi earned a silver trophy. We are also proud to report that Mendel was among 15 boys, from grades 4 to 8, who completed the entire Chidon curriculum. Mendel earned a medal celebrating his commitment and all those months of hard work.
Mazal tov to Levi, Mendel and all of the competitors!
For more information on the contest, visit chidon613.com.