PM Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara Netanyahu at the International Bible Quiz.
(photo credit: GPO)
Azriel Shilat, 17, from Hatzor Haglilit was crowned the champion of the International Bible Quiz for youth after besting his rivals in the final staged on Independence Day morning, as is traditional.
And it was the four competitors from Israel out of the 16 in total who took the first four spots in the competition, with Oriah Cohen from Kiryat Motzkin, Ofek Avraham from Tiberias and Irad Herman from Modi’in taking second, third and fourth place, respectively.
“I am very excited, I didn’t believe I would be the champion,” said Shilat, who studies at Shomreha Yeshiva.
“I hope that there are parties waiting for me at home,” he quipped, adding that he had begun preparing for the competition six months ago. “To those who want to compete I say, ‘Don’t give up, even when it’s tough.”
The other competitors hailed from around the Jewish world, including the US, Mexico, Panama, Australia, Argentina and South Africa.
In total, some 4,000 Jewish school pupils from 41 countries participated in the earlier rounds of the competition.
The final of the competition was staged, as every year, in the Jerusalem Theater in the capital, and was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund chairman Danny Atar.
Netanyahu said that he was always moved when attending the annual event, “because the Bible is the rock of our existence.”
The prime minister continued, saying that the heroism of biblical figures such as Samson and Gideon, Joshua and King David, inspired future generations of Jewish warriors such as the Maccabees who fought the Selucid Greeks and Bar-Kochba who fought the Romans.
“The verses of the Bible cause a great spirit to flow into our national existence in the homeland... From there we received our strength. And this strength returned and beat within us when we returned to our land. Not to a foreign land did we come. We returned to our homeland, to the inheritance of our forefathers. Here lie our roots, God willing, forever,” said Netanyahu.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett called the International Bible Quiz “one of the pinnacles of Independence Day” and the Bible a national asset which belongs not only to the religious but to the entire people.
“In the merit of the unity of the Jewish people the Zionist project got under way,” said Bennett.
“Unity is knowing that we are one family. Unity is to understand that the State of Israel is our home, and that the IDF is our army, and IDF fighters protect us against our enemies.”