Jewish teens around the world competed in the International Bible Quiz Contest in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The prestigious competition is held each year on Israel’s Independence Day.
For the first time in 17 years, the top two finalists were both Israeli and females, according to Hebrew media reports.
The winner of the competition, 17-year-old Emuna Cohen, hails from the northern Negev town of Bnei Netzarim and the runner-up, Neta Lax, attends school in Neve Tzuf, a small Jewish town in Samaria, in the region known as the West Bank.
Several high-ranking Israeli officials attended the event, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Yoav Kisch.
The prime minister personally congratulated the winner and addressed the audience with a biblical theme that corresponded to Israel’s 75th anniversary celebration.
“Our forefather Abraham, at the age of 75, left Haran and following [God’s] commandment ‘Go forth,'” arrived in the land of Israel. From that 75 to this 75 – 75 years of independence for the State of Israel. All of us, all the tribes of the nation, are making this journey together,” said Netanyahu.
Israel’s complex school system is traditionally divided into religious and secular schools. In addition, Arab minority students usually attend Arabic-speaking schools.
Kisch congratulated Cohen, noting his commitment to keep Bible education a priority for Israeli students.
“A new trend [in Israeli education] which aims to adapt the [school] curriculum to the changing needs of the State of Israel, has led to the weakening of Bible education for Israeli children. The Education Ministry under my leadership is headed in a different direction," Kisch said.
Aura Herzog, the late mother of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, established the International Bible Quiz competition in 1958 to enable Jewish students worldwide to reconnect with their biblical heritage. Last year, two Israeli teens co-won the prestigious competition.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.