June 18, 2024
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June 18, 2024
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Frisch Junior Ilan Romm Brings Home Chidon Gold

(Courtesy of Yeshivat Frisch) Yeshivat Frisch junior Ilan Romm ‘25 won first place in Sunday’s Dr. Shimshon Isseroff Chidon HaTanach USA national championship in New York — Frisch’s three-peat streak of sending a student to the International Chidon HaTanach after Maya Tratt ‘24 represented America in 2023 and Emanuela Milman ‘27 competed in Jerusalem just last week on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.

Romm, who is seen around Frisch more often than not with Tanach in hand, is looking forward to deepening his knowledge over the coming year as he prepares for Israel. “I’ve always been inspired by those who know Torah front to back and am astounded by their capabilities,” he said. “I’m excited to finally have the motivation to strive for that level of knowledge and wisdom.”

For Chidon, Romm uses mnemonics to memorize large amounts of material and make connections in his mind. He says he connects to every sefer he learns, but if required to name a favorite would pick the Book of Kings, “with its vast diversity of interesting stories and characters.”

For Romm, Tanach remains ever-relevant. “Tanach presents an historical lens to modern day problems,” he explained. “Nearly all troubles and trials that stand in the way of becoming the best person possible have been faced before. When you learn Tanach, you read of how different people acted in certain situations, and you understand the best way to act in your own situations. In addition, a deeper understanding of the past comes with an appreciation of it, knowledge of why you’re here, and results in a better and more fulfilling life. When you can see Tanach in everything you do, you can live life with clarity. Knowing Tanach also acts as a jumping point into understanding the world through successive works that present a new light on the world at large.”

His education at Frisch has played a large role in his own learning. “Frisch has given me the means to delve deeper into Torah study than I ever would have imagined,” he continued. “My teachers have taught me how all of my Tanach studying applies to my life each and every day.”

This year, Romm co-led Frisch’s Chidon HaTanach Club with Maya Tratt. (Ilan’s brother, Beni Romm ‘21, was also a Frisch Chidon Club leader and winner of the national Chidon in the year 2020.) The two have created kahoots, quizzes and learning assignments for the club, which meets weekly.

“We’ve tried to cultivate an environment that is both serious in its approach to talmud Torah and a warm and inviting community where learning is a communal endeavor,” said Tratt. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were not shocked in the least [by Ilan’s victory], but felt proud and gratified at seeing someone who had worked so earnestly and hard at Chidon being rewarded for it.”

Romm’s teachers have been impressed with Romm’s integration of Torah into everyday life.

“The sincerity of how Ilan acts is reflective of his internal moral compass, part of Raban Gamliel’s tocho kevaro,” said Frisch Principal Rabbi Eli Ciner.

The mutual supportiveness of Frisch’s Chidon community was in full force during Sunday’s competition. “For all that Ilan knows and with all of his success, it is so refreshing to see how modest and unassuming he remains,” said Frisch’s Chidon Club Faculty Advisor Rabbi Asher Bush. “As we sat in the auditorium waiting for results [Ilan] was with his close friend, who was also his top competitor; to see how excited they were about each other’s success shows that they didn’t just learn Tanach to know it, they learn it to live it.”

“We are so proud of Ilan as an exemplary representation of a true Ben Torah in every sense of the word,” said Frisch’s Chidon Club Coach Rabbi Yair Shahak.

Rabbi Shahak won first place in the 2016 International Adult Chidon HaTanach and his extensive learning resources and materials, including questions, charts and recordings, have been invaluable in the ongoing strength of the Chidon Club. He offered Romm two pieces of advice to keep in mind going into the next phase of Chidon study. Firstly, Chidon is “in no way a sprint, but a multi-year marathon. Consistency is the key to success.” Secondly, to “approach every pasuk from the point of view of the מחבר השאלות. If I were to write at least five questions about this pasuk, what could I ask? This way, even the minutest of details will not escape your notice and you will begin to make more and more complex connections between pesukim, ideas and facts.”

Tratt said she would advise Romm to be excited about the year of learning ahead, have fun and not be daunted by the competition itself. “The reward is the process of study as much as the competition,” she said.

The whole Chidon Club, and all of Yeshivat Frisch, will be behind him. “We were and are all cheering him on and look forward to watching him grow with his studying this year and at the competition in Israel next year,” Tratt concluded.

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