For nine years, Dovz”l  and Arlein thoroughly enjoyed challenging post-secondary students with provocative questions on current issues surrounding Israel, Judaism and personal beliefs.  Dovz”l  especially, wanted the essay questions to excite and stimulate young people particularly young Jewish students, to think about their beliefs and heritage.  He appreciated the wonderful array of essays that were written each year and loved to discuss many of the writer’s viewpoints with his own children and grandchildren.  Unfortunately, Mr. Chetner passed away in December 2012.  This contest brought him much joy and were are proud to continue his legacy.

The Chai Essay Contest, offers over $5,000 in prize money annually. It is open to all Canadian post-secondary students.  The contest is made possible by Dov and Arlein Chetner Endowment Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Calgary.

Download Contest Details Here – 2018 Application & Guidelines



Does International recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital help the prospects for peace in the Middle East?

Participants are expected to present an arguable opinion on this topic. The goal is to convince the reader that one’s opinion is valid and worth pursuing.  Ideas need to be carefully examined and arguments fully developed in logical sequence. Essays will be assessed by different judges based on the following criteria: Use of Language and Focus;  Utilization of Facts and Historical Events;  Argument Development; Overall  Persuasiveness.

First Prize is $2,700 – Second Prize is $1,800 – Third Prize is $900

2018 Chetner Essay Winner –

“Does International recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital help the prospects for peace in the Middle East?”

  • 2018 First Prize Essay ” I, Me, Mine: A Historical Perspective on International Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital” written by Alon Faitelis ( U of T)

 2017 Chetner Essay Winners – “Religion and State Affairs in Israel: Can Israel Function As Both A Jewish State And A Modern, Democratic State?”

  • 2017 First Prize Essay – “JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC:  An Exploration of Israel’s Jewish and Democratic Character, Its Implications on Israel’s Arab Minority, and Considerations for the Future” written by Rayna Lew, McGill University
  • 2017 Second Prize Essay – ” Resolving the Tension: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State” written by Karry Taylor, Mount Royal University

2016 Chetner Essay Winners – “Eastern Meditation and Jewish Living – A perfect match or assimilation in disguise?”

  • 2016 First Prize Essay – “Chanting with Chutzpa: The Intersection of Jewish Life & Eastern Spirituality” written by Lara Rodin, McGill University
  • 2016 Second Prize Essay – “Compassion Through Action: The Intersection of Judaism and Buddhism” written by Karry Taylor, Mount Royal University
  • 2016 Third Prize Essay – “You Shall Be Holy: Eastern Meditation and Jewish Assimilation” written by Kate Jacobson, University of Calgary

2015 Chetner Essay Winners – “Why Perpetuate Judaism?”