Family & Education

Hebrew hotshots excel in spelling challenge

David Jacobs from Nancy Reuben and Kerem’s Hannah Mantzur emerge as winners after 62 year 5 and 6 pupils contest final stages


Primary pupils dazzled with their coolness under pressure as they competed in the finals of the annual Hebrew spelling bee.

After coming through several rounds of trial by letters, David Jacobs from Nancy Reuben Primary emerged as champion in the non-Ivrit speakers’ category, while Kerem’s Hannah Mantzur was the winner for the Ivrit speakers — but not before she had to undergo a “penalty shoot-out” after a tie for the top.

Sixty-two year 5 and 6 students from ten schools across the religious spectrum contested the final stages at the London School of Jewish Studies on Tuesday.

They were the best of their schools, whittled down from the 220 who had originally taken part in the programme, which is run by PaJeS in association with Routes into Languages East.

The finalists had a minute to spell out as many words as they could, called out at random from a prepared list of 120. The Ivrit speakers had tougher words to learn.

Tamar Hershko, the competition caller, who teaches Ivrit at JCoSS, said: “I can see a huge difference in year 7s with those who have done the spelling bee.”

Dalia Wittenberg, primary Ivrit adviser at PaJeS, said “High motivation is one factor that contributes to successful learning, and the spelling bee competition has shown that competing motivates and inspires students to learn and do well.”

As an added attraction this year, four teachers also tried the challenge, with Nancy Reuben’s Galit Braun coming out on top.

Meanwhile, PaJeS has announced lawyer Dov Black, former chairman of governors of the Broughton Jewish Cassel-Fox Primary School in Salford, as its new chairman. He succeeds Sarah Anticoni.

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