Yeshivat Frisch Takes On Tanach

March 24, 2021

In preparation for the International Bible Contest for youth, Chidon HaTanach, in just a few weeks, Frisch senior Beni Romm ‘21, the reigning Dr. Shimshon Issacheroff USA Chidon HaTanach Champion, went head to head on Wednesday with his Chidon coach, and Hebrew teacher, Rabbi Yair Shahak, first place winner of the 2016 International Adult Chidon HaTanach and Frisch Hebrew department chair. The two competed against each other in a five-round mock Chidon covering material from 21 sefarim, in front of an excited, distanced audience of nearly 100 students. Dr. Yaelle Frohlich—Frisch history teacher and a 2016 International Adult Chidon semi-finalist—moderated the event with former National Champion Uriel Simpson ‘21, with contributions from Tamar Rosenfeld ‘23 and Shoshana Schwarz ‘23.

Romm has also been instrumental in recruiting new members to Frisch’s Chidon HaTanach Club (faculty adviser Rabbi Asher Bush), and it was announced this week that, following a 90-question preliminary exam on large portions of Tanach, 16 Yeshivat Frisch students will have the opportunity to compete in the national round of the competition in early May: Tamar Rosenfeld ‘23, Josh Knoll ‘23, Ari Spivack ‘23, Maya Tratt ‘24, Eliora Gissinger ‘24, Elza Koslowe ‘23, Rami Kirsch ‘23, Gabe Rothman ‘23, Shoshana Schwarz ‘23, Liam Lewis ‘23, Ari Elkin ‘22, Rebecca Kermaier ‘23, Gavriel Weinstein ‘23, Sarit Greenwood ‘23, Alex Massel ‘23, and Ben Fisher ‘24.

“This year the excitement and level of achievement has been buoyed by the enthusiasm generated by our own national Chidon champion, senior Beni Romm, who has served as mentor to the group,” said Rabbi Bush.

Indeed, when all the students were brought together for a group photo, they eagerly discussed their Chidon test scores—but they weren’t talking about their own results. Rather, they were excited to tell the photographer about how well their friends had done, and about the joys of studying together.

“The best aspect of being a part of Chidon is being given the opportunity to learn Tanach in a way that emphasizes grasping the text in the original Hebrew along with being able to recognize and remember key phrases and little details of stories that I would not have picked up on otherwise,” said Tratt.

“I love finding connections between different sefarim and seeing how all of Tanach relates seamlessly,” added Kermaier.

Romm had words of encouragement for his fellow Cougars going into the national round: “Yishar Kochachem for all of the Tanakh that you have learned this year,” he said. “You should be proud of your hard work and dedication to Talmud Torah. The Chidon, however, offers an opportunity to more than just learn Torah. It offers an opportunity to know Torah, to internalize it, to approach mastery. This path is far more difficult than simply learning Torah, but also far more rewarding, in my experience. If you work towards this goal, you will be able to say of yourself: תורת אמת היתה בפיהו.”

In addition to the Chidon, Torah knowledge abounds in another extracurricular: Torah Bowl! Earlier this month, the Yeshivat Frisch Girls Torah Bowl team won first place at their virtual meet. In preparation for the competition, they learned the last 12 perakim of Bamidbar along with Rashi’s commentary.