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The International Bible Contest (Chidon HaTanach, (Hebrew: חידון התנ"ך) is a worldwide competition on the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) for high school students. It is held annually in Jerusalem, Israel on Yom Ha'atzmaut. Sponsored by the Israeli government and being an official event on Yom HaAtzmaut, the Prime Minister of Israel usually attends.
Participants are given a list of chapters to study in May or June, and in the following February or April a preliminary regional test is taken. This consists of 100 multiple-choice questions for high school students (75 for grades 7 & 8, 50 for grades 5 & 6). A number of participants to continue are selected - e.g., 50. In this case, the top 50 scores will continue to the national competition. The national competition is held in May or June. It consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, as well as other questions. The top 10 people are selected. Of these, first and second place will go to Israel the next year to represent Canada. If anyone from Montreal gets into the top 10, they go also (the top Montrealer if there is more than one). The same goes for Western Canada. If there are Israelis in Canada who are participating, they are not allowed to win, but the top Israeli in the top 10 goes to Israel as the Chatan Yisrael of Canada. Thus, a total of 5 people at the most could theoretically go to Israel the next year. In reality, it is usually only 2 or 3.
United States system
Participants are also given a set of chapters to study. There is one book of Torah, one in Early Prophets, and one in Writings. The high school division also has one book of Later Prophets. Selected chapters are chosen from each, for a total of 70-100 chapters. During December, February, and March, there are 3 regional tests. Every school, along with several other schools, are assigned a region. The kid who scores the highest score in their region is crowned "Regional Champion". The Regional Champion along with those who score a certain cumulative percentage (e.g. 85%) on the regionals go on to the nationals. There are 4 divisions in the nationals, the Hebrew High School, Hebrew Middle School, English High School, and English Middle School. The Chidon sends first place from every division to Israel. If there is a tie for first place, a tie breaker round is created to decide who will represent the country. Four people are sent each year, with the Israeli government paying for the contestant's plane ticket. In 2006 through 2009, this competition was held at Ramaz School in New York City, New York.
The National test is divided up into two sections. First there is a test similar to the regional test which asks questions such as "Who said to who", "Who is this talking about" and understanding the text. After this test, there is a second test called the cross-referencing test. Similar phrases in Tanach are given and children must be able to match up one side to the other. Family trees and finishing the phrases are also on this part of the test.
Winners are as follows:
Hebrew Middle School Division(2006) - Yakir Forman
Hebrew High School Division (2006) - Yosef Kornbluth
Hebrew Middle School Division(2007) - Dovi Nadel
Hebrew High School Division (2007) - Elisheva Goldmeir
Hebrew Middle School Division (2008) - Rachel Weintraub
Hebrew High School Division (2008) - Darren Sultan
English High School (2008) - Gabrielle Saltzman
English Middle School (2008) - Alec Frankel
Hebrew Middle School Division (2009) - Josh Meier
Hebrew High School Division (2009) - Menachem Schindler
In Australia, there are two competitions leading up to the International Bible Contest. Competitors usually come from Melbourne, Victoria and Sydney, New South Wales, though in recent year participants from Perth in Western Australia have taken part. A national round consisting of the participants of each state (usually between 4-8 participants) sit a 1 hour written test and then a 2 hour public oral quiz, where participants sit on a stage and project their answers after hearing questions. Identical quizzes are sat by the participants in each state. The national syllabus usually consists of 100-150 chapters of Torah, Neviim and Later Prophets. The top three participants of the national quiz of each state are then selected to go through to the federal round, held either in Sydney or Melbourne. A further 50-70 chapters is then added to the initial national syllabus. The Federal round of the competition is identical to the National only there is more content, thus the questions are seemingly harder. The winner and the 2nd highest scorer are then given places at the International Bible Quiz camp. Only the winner's ticket is paid for by the Australian Zionist Federation. The 2nd place winner must pay for their ticket to come to the camp. The author of the Australian Bible Quiz is the 1999 Diaspora Winner, Dr Shira Wenig.
1st place- Ronit Travers, Beth Rivkah Ladies College
2nd place- Moshie Broner, Yeshivah College
1st place- Yonina Garfield, Beth Rivkah Ladies College
2nd place- Tali Feiglin, Leibler Yavneh College
3rd place- Yakir Landau, Yeshiva College
1st place- Nomi Kaltmann, Leibler Yavneh College
2nd place- Nathan Joel, Leibler Yavneh College
3rd place- Alex Robinson, Moriah College
1st place- Noa Bloch, Beth Rivkah Ladies College
2nd place- Doovie Kaltmann, Leibler Yavneh College
1st place- Sara Kaltmann, Beth Rivkah Ladies College (Melbourne)
2nd place- Sarah Charak, Kesser Torah College (Sydney)
The international contest is on around 400 chapters. Since Israelis often win, there is a separate 'Diaspora Contest', for the top non-Israelis. For the week before and after, the contestants have a scheduled program known as the Bible Camp. During the Bible Camp, contestants travel throughout Israel, meet dignitaries, tour various sites, participate in the Gadna youth military program, and, of course, study Tanach. An initial fifty (and in 2009, sixty) -question written test takes place within the first few days of the program. Of the contestants that took the written test, the top sixteen overall go on to compete in the international championship, and the top scorers from the top sixteen countries (other than Israel) go to the Diaspora Contest. Thus, if Americans A and B are the top two scorers and Mexican C was in third place, A and C would go to the Diaspora contest but all three would go to the international championship. While the international contest is always held in Jerusalem, the Diaspora Contest is held in different Israeli cities every year. The main contest is broadcast live on Israel public television and radio. Though all proceedings of the contest are in general conducted in Hebrew, translations of the questions and answers are available, so language is not barrier to participation.
The international contest was founded by David Ben Gurion. Originally, a Chidon Hatanach for adults was the main contest, and the contest for high school students was a relatively minor part. However, the Chidon is currently only for teenagers, though there are rumors that the Chidon for adults will be reinstated.
The winner of the International Bible Contest wins a four-year college scholarship to Bar Ilan University.
In the 2009 international contest, 47 finalists from 24 countries participated. The top five contestants placed as follows:
In the 2008 International Chidon, 63 finalists from 37 countries participated. The top six contestants placed as follows:
1st place: Tzurit Bernson (age 15, Merkaz Tikvateinu, Nahariya, Israel)
2nd place: Elad Finish (age 18, Yeshivat AMIT, Be'er Sheva, Israel)
3rd place: Dovi Nadel (age 15, Yeshivat Akiva, Southfield, Michigan, USA)
4th place: Rivka Witty (age 15, Ulpanat Orot, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
5th place: Rachel Esses (age 15, Yeshivat Emunah, Mexico City, Mexico)
Diaspora Contest : 1st place : Rivka Witty (age 15, Ulpanat Orot, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
2nd place : Dovi Nadel (age 15, Yeshivat Akiva, Southfield, Michigan, USA)
3rd place : Rachel Esses (age 15, Yeshivat Emunah, Mexico City, Mexico)
4th place : Nomi Kaltmann (age 16 Leiber Yavneh College, Melbourne, Australia)
5th place : Samuel Londner (age 15, Lycée Yabné, Paris, France)
In the 2007 contest, the contestants placed as follows:
1st place: Yishai (chamud) Gisspan (age 17, Jerusalem, Israel)
2nd Place: Tamar Kronman (age 17, Be'er Sheva, Israel)
3rd Place: Tzuriel Sasson (age 17, Be'er Sheva, Israel)
4th Place (and Diaspora Champion): Yakir Forman (age 13, Teaneck, New Jersey USA)
5th Place: Yosef Kornbluth (age 16, Teaneck, New Jersey USA)
6th Place: Joshua Satok (age 16, Toronto, Ontario Canada)
- ↑  Jewish Standard - Teaneck Students Compete in International Bible Contest
- ↑  (Hebrew)
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UHHWmgWrgc
- ↑ Video of 2008 International Final Awards
- ↑ Jerusalem Teen Wins Annual International Bible Quiz