For more than two decades, the Chicago Rabbinical Council has sponsored an annual essay contest open to seniors in local high schools and yeshivot who plan to continue their Torah studies during the following year in Israel. For many years the contest was sponsored through the generosity of our Chaver Rabbi Harold Karp, z”l. In more recent years, the contest has borne the names of our revered Av Bais Din, HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, z”l and his Rebbetzin, Shoshana Schwartz, z”l.
The contest has a three-fold objective. Firstly, cRc wishes to maintain an institutional bond with those schools that train future leaders of the Jewish people. Secondly, we hope to encourage students to use their critical thinking skills, Torah research and writing skills to address important topics that affect the Jewish people. Finally, we wish to reinforce the importance of continuing Jewish education in Torah institutions in Israel.
The past four years have seen profound changes in societies in America, Israel and around the world. The world of 2024 is radically different from the world that existed in 2019. Many of the changes have come about due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Expectations in the workplace have changed. In fact, the workplace, itself, has changed. Breakthroughs in medicine prolong lives but, in the process, they create new dilemmas regarding end-of-life issues. The Halachic attitude on abortion is misrepresented in the press and on talk shows by misinformed or malevolent pop-theologians.
Once considered an oxymoron or the punchline of a joke, Artificial Intelligence plays a dominant role in human behavior in everything from college essays to political advertisements to script-writers of plays. In many circles, climate change is considered reality, not a distant threat. New innovations such as those in the processing of food, and the creation of “meat” in the laboratory pose serious questions for Poskim.
The cRc currently addresses many of these challenges directly and indirectly. The education committee has restructured our annual essay contest to reflect the fast-emerging changes in our society. The annual essay has been replaced by the Chicago Rabbinical Council Torah Research Project.
Our new project is designed to encourage our youth to address some of the issues mentioned above and to explore their Halachic ramifications. We hope to assist serious students acquire research skills using legitimate Halachic and TaNaCH sources. We plan to present the cRc Torah Research Project in detail to the seniors in our schools by Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph, February 9, 2024, IYH.
This project is open to all current senior students of participating schools who plan on Torah study in Eretz Yisrael for the 5785-2025 school year.
Two First place prizes of $1800 will be awarded.
Three second place prizes of $500 will be awarded.
The Rebbetzin Shoshana Schwartz, a”h, Chicago Rabbinical Council Torah Research Project
Entrants may select a project from one of the topics listed below:
Step #1: Select a Topic
Law and Identification
- DNA analysis
- Facial Identification
Intellectual Property Rights
- Artificial Intelligence: Redefining originality in research
Extending Life and End of Life
- Defining “death”
- Prolonging life? Or extending the process of dying?
- Cell Generated “meat”—Is it Kosher? What Bracha is made? Fleishig? Pareve?
Boundaries of the Jewish State
- May land in Eretz Yisrael be “sold” to Arabs to observe Shemitta with the guidelines of the Heter Mechira?
- Should an agreement become a realistic possibility, may land Halachically be surrendered to Arab control?
- During Shemitta may Jews who do not employ the Heter Mechira purchase produce grown in Eretz Yisrael?
Mitzvot Hateluyot BaAretz
- Which areas of Eretz Yisrael do not grow produce that is obligated in Terumot and Maasrot?
Step #2: Select your reference options and sources
Your teachers and your Rebbe or Rabbeim may be able to guide you in following the trail of research on the topic that you have selected. Additional help may be requested from cRc. Send an email to Rabbi Michael Myers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be concise and specific as to your topic and the questions that you have. You will receive a reply via return of your email request at your email address.
Your advisor may point you in the right direction. But, you must do the “legwork” and “brainwork” on your own.
Step #3: Compose research paper addressing your topic.
While there is no minimum requirement, we anticipate a paper of 5 double- spaced pages at 12-point font would be needed to introduce, explore and conclude your project. As to maximum length, address your paper to an aspect of the topic – not the entire topic.
Step #4: Submission Deadline: Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Yom Yerushalayim Iyar 28, 5784
Essays should be emailed to email@example.com. A hard copy must also be mailed or brought to:
Chicago Rabbinical Council, 2701 W. Howard Street, Chicago, Illinois 60645.
The cRc will email you when your essay is received.
YOUR ENTRY MUST HAVE A COVER PAGE WHICH WILL INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION:
- Your name
- Your Home Address
- Email Address
- Home phone
- Your mobile phone number or that of a parent
- Your school
YOUR NAME MUST NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE OTHER THAN ON THE COVER PAGE.
Please direct all questions to Rabbi Michael A Myers at: firstname.lastname@example.org