Israelis continue dominance in Bible quiz with first- and second-place finishes


(JTA) — An Israeli boy won the International Bible Quiz and an Israeli girl finished second as the host nation continued its dominance in the event.

Ezriel Shilat, 16, a resident of Hatzor Haglilit in the north and a yeshiva student at Shomria in the south, took the title in the final round on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, in Jerusalem. He was among the settlers removed in 2005 from the Gaza Strip when Israel withdrew.

The runner-up was Oriah Cohen, a student at the B’nei Akivah girls’ high school in Kiryat Motzkin, a suburb of Haifa, and a resident of Haifa.

Shilat and Cohen were among four Israelis to reach the final round of 16 along with three Americans and Mexicans, two Australians and South Africans, and one each from Panama and Argentina. Israelis typically win the quiz, although a Canadian won in 2014 and an American tied with an Israeli in 2013.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on hand for the competition held annually on Independence Day. This year the nation is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

This year’s quiz drew controversy when a Jewish teen from Ethiopia was ordered to deposit thousands of dollars in order to participate in the final stages, which he failed to reach. Sintayehu Shafrao was granted residency status this week.

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