This article first appeared in Issue #11 Spring 2007/5767
By Hindy Naparstek as told to Leah Larson
Hi, my name is Hindy Naparstek and I’m thirteen years old. I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where my parents are Chabad Shluchim. I’ve always been pretty good at spelling, but never imagined I could compete in the national spelling bee! But last spring, that’s exactly what happened!
My school, Chabad Academy of Myrtle Beach, joined the spelling bee a few years ago. This year I won the school spelling bee and moved on to the Regional Myrtle Beach Spelling Bee. I competed against 53 other kids from many schools and places. The spelling bee was on Purim, which of course is a lucky day for the Jewish people. But I still was shocked when I won the spelling bee by spelling the word “mediterranean’! I could hardly speak afterwards. That meant I was going to go
The National Bee would be in May, so I had a few months to prepare. They gave us a big fat dictionary to study from, but mostly I just read a lot. I love reading! I don’t really have any study tricks, I just read.
In May, my mother and I took a tiny plane to Washington D.C. We arrived on Sunday and they had a board game festival that night to ‘get us acquainted’. There were kids there from all over- I even met a girl from Alaska! The next day was Memorial Day, so they took us for the day to a nice park. Tuesday, there was nothing planned so my mother and I went touring around Washington. Wednesday, was finally time for the Spelling Bee.
There were 274 kids competing in the spelling bee, more than there have ever been. There were news reporters all around, and many kids were very nervous. I wasn’t really nervous because I was just happy to be there. I didn’t expect to get too far.
The first round of the bee is a written test. There are 25 words in this round. There are multiple choices of different spellings for each word, and you have to choose the correct one. In the second round everyone goes up on stage and has to spell a word correctly, orally. Every word that you spell right on the written test is one point and every word you spell orally is three points. Whoever has more than a certain amount of points at the end of the second round goes on to the next round. And then you get eliminated when you spell a word wrong. The rounds go on until there is one winner.
I stayed in the first round and made it up on stage for the second round. But when they asked me to spell ‘gotterdammerung’ (‘a collapse marked by catastrophic violence and disorder’), I knew that I wouldn’t be able to spell it. I made a guess, but got it wrong and was eliminated. I wasn’t upset when I got out though; I never expected to get that far. Some kids who were there really studied intensively and have been in the spelling bee for over five years.
That night my mother and I took a train back to Myrtle Beach in order to be home in time for Shavuos. I will probably compete in the school spelling bee again next year, although we’ll see what happens. I don’t know if I’ll go as far as the nationals. All my friends and family were very proud of me. But more than just getting to the second round, I was happy that I got to make a big kiddush Hashem.
Sometimes we might think that only times like this when you are on stage, or at something big, we have the opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem. But really, wherever you are, you are representing the Jewish people, and you have the opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem.