Students at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Long Island, NY, were screaming with joy one morning last month. Seniors Shira Billet and Dora Chana Sosnowik had just won first place (out of 5,000 entries!) in the Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition.
The contest rewards America's most promising science and mathematics students. Shira and Dora Chana, longtime friends, are the first Shabbat-observant students to win, and will share a $100,000 scholarship.
Their award winning discovery- a new way to measure the stickiness of polymer film- may one day improve the way artificial limbs and computer disc drives are built.
Another first...the contest organizers rearranged the schedule so the girls could practice Friday before Shabbat and present their project to the judges after Shabbat. (Usually, all students present on Saturday afternoon.)
"When I found out the presentations were on Shabbat," Shira said, "I thought that was the end for Dora and me, but I was wrong," she smiled. "People were so incredibly understanding and accommodating." Dora Chana agreed, and added proudly, "Never think that because you're a Jew it will stand in the way of your dreams."