July has become the month for quizzes and contests. While the Etgar Challenge has become an annual highlight for primary schools, children from Jewish secondary schools also have the chance to pit their wits against each other.
Beat the Clock was launched last year by Manchester’s King David High School with pupils from JFS travelling from London to take part. This year they were joined by a group from Immanuel College.
Rabbi Jonny Goodman, its organiser, said that after the “massive high” of Etgar, the idea was to offer year 7 students something to “infuse them with love and passion” for Jewish learning.
As with Etgar, the 140 competitors had to swot up material from a resource book during the course of the year on subjects ranging from the life cycle to Jewish values.
“They have the opportunity to connect with a variety of topics that are directly relevant as they begin their journey as young Jewish adults in the 21st century,” Rabbi Goodman explained. “Additionally the material they study will provide them with a breadth of knowledge that will benefit them significantly when they embark on their Jewish studies GCSE.”
Beat the Clock is no desk-bound quiz. Equipped with iPads, contestants were set a number of interactive challenges which in one case involved a number hunt around the competition hall. They also had to act out a Jewish wedding.
“Every challenge is under time conditions, hence the name of the programme,” he said.
Hayley Simon, head of Jewish studies at Yavneh College in Hertfordshire, was one of the judges this year. Although her own school did not enter the contest, she said she was “so looking forward to bringing a Yavneh College team to the event next year. There was such a fun and exciting atmosphere.”
Rachelle Madnick, a competitor from JFS, found it “an amazing experience and great fun to be part of”.
Rabbi Doniel Karp, a Jewish studies teacher at JFS said, “The competition was so well run, with a variety of different activities to engage the students and test their knowledge. The gym was transformed into an amazing competition room and there was a real buzz throughout.”
Rabbi Goodman said it was “wonderful to see Jewish high school students from London and Manchester come together.”
But despite the best efforts of the Londoners, the laurels went to a home team – a group of girls from Yavneh, the King David High stream which provides more intensive religious studies.