Hidon Ha-Tanach: Israel's Bible Competition on Yom Ha'atzmaut

Published: 
2011

Source: MyJewishLearning

 

Joshua Teplitsky writes in MyJewishLearning about the International Israel Bible Youth Quiz held in Jerusalem every Israel Independence Day. "Israel also marks the anniversary of its establishment with an unusual ritual: the International Bible Quiz (Hidon ha-Tanach). Often presided over by the President or Prime Minister of the State of Israel, the competition, held in Jerusalem, gathers high school students from across the Jewish world to showcase their scriptural prowess on national television. The event has a 40-year history and a pedigree that is older than the state itself, deeply intertwined with the ideological underpinnings of Zionism.

 

In 1963, on Independence Day, with great pride and ceremony, the state held its first international Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth, shifting the focus away from a general adult populace to students in high school. David Ben-Gurion, surveying the festivities alongside the annual military procession, remarked that he was witnessing "the spiritual parade alongside the military parade"--a fulfillment of the Zionist triad of people, land, and book.

 

Nowadays, the Hidon generally proceeds in three stages: regional, national, and international, with finalists from each stage proceeding to the next level in order to compete against other champions. It is largely coordinated by the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the precise process varies in each country, where participants compete at the national level prior to qualifying for the international round in Jerusalem. The material is organized according to a triennial cycle, drawing upon selections from the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Writings.

 

Fewer than 20 finalists from some 36 countries come to compete in Jerusalem, where they take part in a quiz for the diaspora from which a select few join Israeli competitors in the final round. At the close of the competition, the victor is crowned "Groom" or "Bride" of the Bible, and wins a scholarship to study at Israel's Bar Ilan University. The best non-Israeli champion wins a scholarship to study at Machon Lev, the Jerusalem College of Technology.

 

The questions--based only on the simple, literal meaning of the Bible--are designed around themes of Jewish ethics, the nature of the Land of Israel, and human nature. To underscore the relationship between the Bible, the land of Israel, and the Jewish people, the final questions are often delivered by Israeli dignitaries."

 

Shlomo Edelman from Nof Ayalon and Shaalvim Yeshiva High School was crowned Israel Bible Contest winner on Independence Day in this year's competition.

 

He bested the runner up from the Amana High School of Kfar Saba, Noam Hadad, by a single point in what can be regarded as a Bible contest version of a football penalty shootout as each contestant was asked 12 questions to decide the contest. In the regular competition both participants scored fifty points. Despite the suggestion of former Israeli President Yizhak Navon to declare the contest a draw and call the finalists bride and groom, the contest went on.

 

The entire broadcast of this year's final session of the quiz can be viewed on Israel National News.

Updated: May. 12, 2011
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