An Indian-American boy won a national spelling contest after correctly spelling a Yiddish-derived word.
Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday by spelling the word “knaidel,” a traditional Jewish dumpling. Mahankali beat out ten other finalists in the competition, held in Oxon Hill, Md.
He won $30,000 in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as a shiny engraved trophy and the title of “champion.”
German words have led Mahankali to his spelling bee demise for the past two years, when he twice placed third at the bee.
Vocabulary.com, which covered the bee, described knaidel as coming from “German-derived Yiddish.” It quoted Mahankali as telling ESPN, “the German curse has turned into the German blessing.”
The finals featured another word of Jewish origin. Hannah Citsay, a student at St. Anne Catholic School in Lancaster, Pa., correctly spelled “hesped,” the Hebrew word for eulogy, in the sixth round.
Despite correctly spelling “hesped,” Citsay was eliminated in a new portion of the contest, where contestants had to provide the definition of a word.