In Israel, one of the most celebrated traditions of Independence Day is the International Youth Bible Quiz (Hebrew: Chidon HaTanakh, חידון התנ"ך).
The competition, which now takes place on Yom Ha’atzmaut and is televised, is generally presided over by the prime minister of Israel and often surfaces inspiring storylines and compelling character sketches:
- 1965 – Two New York Hebrew day school students, both daughters of rabbis, placed third and fourth, behind Balfour and Herzl Hakkak, Jerusalem twins who placed first and second.
- 1977 – A Yemenite child with 14 siblings earned a perfect score en route to victory.
- 2002– A blind and deaf teen tied for first place, one year after a disabled teen also earned top honors.
- 2008 – The participation of a Messianic Jewish girl from Jerusalem drew threats of a boycott from anti-missionary group and certain sages.
- 2010 – While presiding over the competition, Prime Minister Netanyahu watched his youngest son win the competition
The first international Bible competition took place in the fall of 1958 to mark the occassion of Israel’s 10th anniversary and was attended by Ben-Gurion and other dignitaries. Initially geared towards adults, other Bible competitions, including one for Jewish youth, were born from the idea. In late 1959, the Jewish Agency began planning a national competition in America.
ARCHIVE NOTES: The first non-Jew to win the adults’ International Bible Quiz was Australian Graham Mitchell in 1964.
Top Image: P.M. David Ben Gurion with his personal secretary Yitzhak Navon and Teddy Kollek (L) Pres. Ben Zvi and Knesset Speaker Sprinzak attending the first bible quiz (Oct 1, 1958/ GPO) .
Bottom Image: Shimon Peres with international youth bible quiz winner, Ohad Zechariyah, on Israel independence day Yom Ha’atzmaut (April 25, 1985, Yaakov via Wikipedia)