World Bible Quiz winner: Or Ashual

17-year-old Kfar Saba girl beats 15 finalists from around the world.

world bible quiz 2010 311 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
world bible quiz 2010 311 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Or Ashual, a 17-year-old student at the Kfar Saba Amana Ulpena for girls, was announced on Tuesday as the winner of the World Bible Quiz competition for 2010, which took place on Israel's 62nd Independence Day at the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts.
Ashual's first runner-up was Elad Nachshon of the De Shalit high school in Rehovot, and the third place went to Avner Netanyahu, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 15-year-old son who studies at the Hebrew University High School (“Leyada”). The younger Netanyahu was also the winner of last month's National Bible Quiz.
Ashual bested 15 other finalists from all over the world, including the Americas and Australia.
The theme of this year's competition was the revitalization of the Hebrew language, and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky enthralled the audience with his personal story of first encountering the difficult Hebrew of the Bible in Soviet imprisonment, in what was yet another challenge he overcame that provided him with strength, encouragement and inspiration.
An excited and proud Binyamin Netanyahu sat through the event with his wife Sara and son Yair, and presented the traditional prime minister's question, which was handed to him after the contestants had already taken their places away from the audience - in a break from the competition's tradition.
Both Nachshon and Netanyahu are part of the secular educational system. Avner's maternal uncle Hagi Ben-Artzi - who, like his two brothers Amatzia and Matanya, is a past winner of the National Bible Quiz and a product of secular schools - pointed out to The Jerusalem Post the enormity of the achievement, saying that it marks a return of the central place of Bible studies to the irreligious population, after some three decades of religious domination in the contest.
“I'm saluting my father here; it's all thanks to him,” Ben-Artzi said of his own success decades ago and of Avner's Tuesday achievement, accrediting his father Shmuel for making Bible studies a central part of his children's upbringing, and for continuing to instill the Bible within his grandchildren. “[Avner and his grandfather Shmuel] meet every day to study the Bible,” Ben-Artzi said.
Upon handing the first prize to Ashual, the premier acknowledged how excited he was over his son's participation, and expressed his awe over the participants' achievements.
“David Ben Gurion said that the foundation of our existence here is the Bible,” Netanyahu said. “I was brought up studying the Bible, so were my brothers. The Bible has once again become the Book of Books for all of Israel.”
Netanyahu took the opportunity to reiterate his decision to relaunch the Bible Quiz for adults after a 29-year hiatus. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar recently announced that the event would take place this upcoming Hanukka.
“The Bible is the basis for the existence of the People of Israel and the State of Israel,” the beaming premier stressed. “May you be blessed and become a light unto the nations,” he told the participants in a subtle nod to winner Ashual, whose first name means “light” in Hebrew.