Maimonides Jewish Day School in Southwest Portland announces Oregon’s fouth annual Chanukah Essay Contest, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. (See contest details below.)
This year, students in third to eighth grades are asked to consider this question: The Festival of Lights celebrates how the Maccabees found the strength to overcome difficult obstacles their community faced. How can you help support your community of friends and family in today’s challenging times?
Eric Kimmel, award-winning children’s author, penned this year’s question to encourage young Oregonians to put themselves in the shoes of the Maccabees – Jewish soldiers in antiquity who fought for their beliefs – and ask how students today can lend strength to those in need.
“These are challenging, scary times,” Kimmel says. “But difficult times also give us a chance to become better and stronger than we ever thought we could be. We do this by helping and supporting those around us. We become our better selves when we are helping others. That’s how our essay contest can help: Think about what you can do and share it with us.”
A panel of three judges unaffiliated with Maimonides will choose one winner from each of two groups: third-fifth grade and sixth-eighth grade. The two winners each receive $200: $150 is a cash prize and the additional $50 is for the student to gift to the school of his or her choice. Each student gets to enjoy a lunch via Zoom with Kimmel and with Trudy Ludwig, an award-winning, anti-bullying children’s author.
Ludwig says, “This contest is a wonderful opportunity for students to share how we all can make a difference in our communities by turning challenges into opportunities for positive change.”
Reflecting on this year’s theme, MJDS Principal Rabbi Shneur Wilhelm says, “Challenges are opportunities. Like an olive, which when crushed reveals its deepest treasure, the Jewish people have always taken challenges as an opportunity to reveal within each one our deepest treasures. I look forward to seeing the thought, depth and unique perspective of each child.”
“The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is delighted to help sponsor the essay contest,” says JFGP CEO and President Marc Blattner. “We look forward to the wise words of our children as they help show us the path forward.”
CONTEST RULES AND DETAILS
Eligible students: All Oregon students in 3rd-5th grades and 6th-8th grades
Essay length: 150 words or less
Deadline: 5 pm, Tuesday, Dec. 1
Winners announced: Dec. 7
Prizes: $200 cash prize; one signed book from both Trudy Ludwig and Eric Kimmel; and Zoom lunch with both authors on Sunday, Dec. 13, from noon to 12:30 pm.
Public reading of winning essays: The first night of Chanukah, Dec. 10, at the annual menorah lighting. Details will be forthcoming closer to the event.