Musing: The Spelling Champ Who Wasn’t

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As most everyone knows by now, the ethnic Indian 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali, won the final bee by correctly spelling the word knaidel, the Yiddish word for a dumpling.

What only a privileged few – now including you – know is that, back in 1989, a 10-year-old Jewish girl, whose last name at the time was Shafran (she has moved on in both locale and life, and is today a mother several times over and a beloved teacher in Milwaukee), came close to winning the spelling championship of Rhode Island and moving on to the national contest. But she erred.

The word she misspelled was “mistletoe.”

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