Jewish Roots in the Bible and the Land

Bible Contest Participants Tour with KKL-JNF - On Sunday, May 15, the contestants who participated in the annual International Bible Contest that takes place every year on Israel Independence Day began three days of touring with KKL-JNF with a tree planting ceremony at Aminadav Forest in the Jerusalem Hills.

May 17, 2011 15:00

KKL_170511_F. (photo credit: Tania Susskind)

On Sunday, May 15, the contestants who participated in the annual International Bible Contest that takes place every year on Israel Independence Day began three days of touring with KKL-JNF with a tree planting ceremony at Aminadav Forest in the Jerusalem Hills. The group included 52 teenagers from 28 different countries, along with the seven Israeli finalists. KKL-JNF is represented on the International Administrative Board of the Bible Contest, and KKL JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, one of the members of the presiding panel, presented the third place award to its winner. The group's first stop was at Aminadav Forest, where they were greeted by Yirmi David of KKL-JNF's Youth and Education Division.

"For us, you are all winners," Yirmi said to the group. "You are connected to your roots through your impressive knowledge of the Bible, and now, you will be planting trees in the soil of the land of Israel, trees that will be taking root and growing, just like the Jewish people in its ancient homeland. This is what KKL-JNF is about – Zionism and ecology. As recent events have shown, the struggle for the land of Israel is far from over. The Bible Contest that you participated in is a source of pride and an inspiration for everyone in Israel and for the entire Jewish people."

The winner of this year's contest was Shlomi Edelman, a pupil at Shalabim KKLYeshiva High School, and the two runner-ups were Noam Hadad, a student from the Bnei Akiva Girls Seminary, who scored only one point less than Edelman, and Ofir Abu from the Makif Ironi Aleph High School of Ashkelon. For these young people, the Bible is not just a book they studied for a quiz. It is a way of life, and as they hiked through the forest to the tree planting site, they did not stop discussing biblical passages and sources for a moment. Being celebrities who have to answer questions or pose for pictures was nothing more than a distraction from what really interests them, that is, the study of sacred texts.

"I began studying for the contest about half a year ago," said Shlomi Adelman, the first place winner. "At my high school, we study the Bible both with the traditional commentaries and also by reading it as much as we can, for the sake of familiarity with the entire text. Personally, I really appreciate the Later Prophets. I had no idea that I would win, and anyway, ultimately everything is from God. Being with all the contestants from abroad has been quite an experience for me, I'm being exposed to some very different cultures and it's quite interesting."

Noam Hadad, the runner-up, said that she really got interested in the Bible two years ago. "During the contest, there is a certain degree of pressure and you get nervous. After all that intensity, it's really perfect to spend a few days in nature. I think KKL-JNF's timing was perfect, because physical activities and the connection with the land is just what we need before going back to our daily routine. I also really appreciate the opportunity to get to know people from abroad who are my age. I'm definitely going to stay in contact with them."

Ofir Abu, who finished in third place, talked a bit about the days leading up to the contest: "The whole group of contestants, from Israel and abroad, was together, and there were all sorts of activities to help us get to know one another, along with preparations for the quiz. I'm really enjoying our time with KKL-JNF. In fact, I would    
have preferred to have more days like this after the quiz rather than all the time beforehand."

Vicky Segal from Sau Paulo, Brazil, and Ari Chipman, from Johannesburg, South Africa, were among the high school students from abroad who participated in the contest. "I really started studying only about two weeks before the contest," said Vicky. "There are two other students from Brazil here with me. I've been in Israel a number of times already, and I plan to go to school in Jerusalem as of September. I definitely intend to make aliya to Israel in the future."

Ari also plans to immigrate to Israel and enlist in the army: "We visited the Carmel Forests and saw the damage done by the recent fire. It was a very meaningful experience for me, because my favorite part in the whole Bible is the story of the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Being here with this group has been an amazing experience, although we all come from very different backgrounds. I guess that after I move to Israel, I'll always feel a bit like an outsider, but I'm sure that in general, I'll blend in." KKL

The group's next stop was Adulam-France Park in the Lower Judean plain, where they participated in an archaeological dig at the Burgin ruins, excavating and sifting. Adulam France Park, so called because it was adopted by friends of KKL-JNF from France, is a huge biospheric park where farmers, animals, trees and many species of vegetation live in harmony and balance, ensuring that the region's biodiversity will be preserved for future generations. The Burgin ruins, where the group worked, is the site of the Second Temple era town of Burgin, or as it is called in the Talmud and Josephus, Kfar Bish. After the Romans destroyed the nearby village of Kfar Etri, just a couple hilltops away, the inhabitants of Kfar Bish met the Romans with an olive branch, a symbol of surrender at that time. The Romans accepted their gesture and did not destroy the city, and there is a wealth of archaeological sites that are currently being excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority, an activity of particular interest to these young people, who have a keen awareness of Jewish history.

Ina Pizhada, a ninth grader from the Republic of Georgia, said that this was her fourth visit to Israel: "I'm the only person from my country here, but I feel at home. My favorite part of the Bible is the stories. I've always dreamed of planting a tree in Israel, but I had no idea that my dream would come true thanks to representing my country at the Bible Contest. It's all been just perfect!"

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Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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