Each year more then 150 people from around the world gather in Las Vegas for the world speed davening championships. Finalists from city competitions get a chance to compete for the glory in Vegas each year. Speed davening takes a lot of skill and concentration because missing words or pronouncing them incorrectly can discount a lot from a competitors score. Last year, one of the shoo-ins lost because he missed morid hatal in the nusach ari qualifier.
Contestants will be competing in 6 different classes of speed davening completions. Anyone can daven shemona esrei fast, but what about prayers they rarely say, like borchi nafshi or nachem? Many contestants know the entire davening by heart, including insertions and holiday davening. 3 years ago a tie was broken when someone was able to say Yom Kippor Musaf in a record 5 minutes complete with all viduy chest clopping. We had never seen anything like Shlomo Kugel before. He could do shema in 30 seconds and would have given the Micro Machines guy a run for his money if he spoke English. Then there was Yanky Pickford, a baal teshuva from Branson, Missouri who took last years championships after saying Kiddush Levana in one and a half minutes.
Most of the contestants come from frum backgrounds but we have two firsts at the world speed davening championships this year. We have our first woman competitor who will be competing in the speed shuckling contests and we have our first ger. The woman has caused quite a big stir in the judges quarters. The speed shuckling comptetion is not for the faint of heart and it was only began when several people noted how fast some of the speed daveners shuckeled. Shaina Freedman hails from Woodmere, NY and describes herself as a fitness freak and a baal habusta, we wish her luck. Gerim are usually the slowest daveners and they almost always have kavannah, so we look forward to hearing him do his thing.