Hundreds of children and their parents gathered at a New Jersey hotel for an inspirational Shabbat experience as they count down to the start of JewQ, an International Torah Championship, on Sunday morning.

Some 2,000 kids from North America, Central and South America and elsewhere participated in early rounds of JewQ, but only a fraction of those students made it to the finals. Those that did have spent months preparing for the contest, learning about their Jewish heritage during their free time and then passing four separate exams to rise to the rank of JewQ champ at their local Chabad Hebrew School.

An initiative of CKids (the Chabad Children’s Club), JewQ is a competition challenges students not attending Jewish day school to learn independently under the guidance of their local Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.

Before Sunday’s event, though, the kids had a chance to get to know each other over Shabbat, enjoyed a musical Havdalah ceremony and more. Their parents also enjoyed a weekend of special activities geared just for them.

Judging this year’s competition will be Judge Ruchie Freier, a civil-court judge for the state of New York; Professor Eve Krakowski, an author and educator at Princeton University; and Mushky Loewenthal, co-director of CKids and creator of the successful IsraelQuest curriculum.

“These kids are the future of our Jewish nation and they’ve worked extremely hard to get here. This is a big moment for all of them,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, who will give a highly anticipated keynote address to the champions and their parents.

In addition to the lively and fast-paced contest with the JewQ champions, this year’s event will include an engaging “Are you smarter than a JewQ champion” trivia game with members of the audience. Singer and rabbi Shmuel Marcus of the group 8th Day will perform during Sunday’s festivities.

Everyone who participates will leave a medal and great memories.

Join the fun via the livestream, which begins at 11am, EST.