Jerusalem, Israel - May 14, 2024  - An Israeli Yom Ha'atzmaut tradition, the International Tanach Chidon featured 16 contestants, four from Israel and twelve young people from other countries.  The 76 Independence Day event was held at the Jerusalem Theater, the usual venue, and was broadcast live on television. The theater was filled with families and supporters of the students who have been studying Tanach diligently and have taken various tests to arrive at this final point of competition. 

The second year in a row, the tense finish ended with a tie. Evyatar Bar-Gil, 17, an eleventh-grade student at ORT Pelech Boys School in Jerusalem, and David Shasha, 17, a twelfth-grade student at Amit Kfar Ganim Yeshiva in Petah Tikva, were the winners of the 61st annual International Bible Contest for Jewish Youth.

The judges included Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Rebbitzen Yemima Mizrachi, Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog, and World Zionist Organization Chair Yaakov Hagoel.

Education Minister Yoav Kisch stated: “Especially in these complex times for Israel, we chose to hold the quiz focused on Jewish courage and to host students from the Diaspora for the 76th Independence Day. The Bible is the book of books, expressing the history and roots of the Jewish people and proving our attachment and settlement in the Land of Israel.”

Per tradition, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was in the audience to ask the contestants a question and present the awards after the exciting contest.

From the US Dov Gotthelf was first overseas and second place in overall competition, in third place, Noa Rivka Kahn, from Israel.

The other competitors this year were Yahav Noach Atlas, Israel; Yosef Samson of Canada; Noa Saubel of Britain; Penina Crystal, from the US; Aviv Sharon of Canada; Noach Greenblatt of South Africa; Mickey Sirolnik from the US; Sara Harari of Panama; Ezra Goldberg of Canada; David Abadi of Mexico; Emmanuela Millman from the US; and Yoni Cady of Australia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not at the event as usual but pre-recorded his greetings to the contestants and a question, and sent an English translation of his remarks for publication:

"Dear participants in the Bible Quiz, On Simchat Torah we endured an event on a Biblical scale. Our enemies attacked us, exactly on the day when the people of Israel celebrate the continuity of study from Genesis and back again. 

This is not new. The Tanakh teaches that even thousands of years ago we knew wars. Our forefather Avraham, our teacher Moses, Joshua, the Judges, King David and his son King Solomon – they all fought bitter enemies.

Even then we did not surrender to them. Even then we did not bow our heads. The prophet Micah says: 'Though I have fallen, I shall arise.' We paid a price but we took the war to them. We were victorious over those who sought our ruin. With G-d's help, we ensured the eternity of Israel.

My friends, the Tanakh is the source of life for us. From it we draw eternal values. The roots of our identity are grounded in the Tanakh, as is our right to the Land of Israel. The link to the chain of generations is based in the book of books.

A direct line joins what is written in the Book of Nehemiah [4:8]to the current war: 'Fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your houses'. And here is another link, in the Book of Joel [2:7]: 'Run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war.' Thanks to our heroic fighters, our state has a defensive wall.

 I turn to you, contestants from Israel and the Diaspora: Continue to spread love of the Tanakh. Continue to study. Continue to teach others.

 I am always proud of you; this is also a tradition in my family. My wife Sara's father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi of blessed memory, was an educator and Tanakh teacher who imbued many generations of students with love of the Tanakh.

 Dear Shmuel turned our son Avner into a real lover of the Tanakh. Avner also participated in the Bible Quiz, this quiz, when he was 15 and a pupil at the Hebrew University Secondary School. Avner was Israel's national Bible champion and was the second runner-up to the champion in the International Quiz.

 We will all continue to draw strength and spirit from the Tanakh. We will continue to love and study the Tanakh. Happy Independence Day and the main thing – be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other."