A British candidate has earned a place at the renowned World Chidon Hatanach for Jewish Youth. Batsheva Schwab, a Year 10 student at Hasmonean High School for Girls, will participate in Wednesday night’s virtual event, amongst other finalists from around the world.
The annual contest, coinciding with Yom Ha’atzmaut, celebrates the success of 16 teenagers who excelled in their study of the Tanach. This follows an intense qualification process which involves a participant winning their own national programme and subsequently ranking in the top 16 internationally in a written semi-final.
The UK contest took place in January and was supported by The Jewish Agency in Israel and Rabbi Eliyahu Silverman from Hasmonean High School and Mizrachi UK shaliach to the UK, whose insights became the foundation of the course’s syllabus. Batsheva was among the three Senior Stream winners of the UK Chidon HaTanach, gaining her place in the final following excelling in the written exam semi-finals. Due to the current climate, the semi-finals took place remotely and were digitally examined and supervised, involving 64 candidates from 29 countries who participated in 14 languages.
The final is usually held in Jerusalem and is attended by dignitaries including the Prime Minister the Minister of Education and the Speaker of the Knesset. However, this year the event will take place digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of Chidon HaTanach is to promote and celebrate Tanach study amongst Jewish youth to both deepen Torah knowledge and strengthen Jewish identity. The international programme is jointly sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education and The Jewish Agency, who also provided Chidon HaTanach UK with informative educational materials for the course.
In addition to Batsheva achieving a spot at Wednesday’s acclaimed event, the Senior Stream winners are honoured with a trip to Israel for the two-week International Chidon Bible Camp, the date of which has not yet been confirmed. This will see them join 80 finalists from over 40 other countries, giving these Jewish children an opportunity to witness the places they have studied first-hand.
Ahead of the semi-final exam, Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, addressed the participants via zoom: “Throughout the ages, despite tremendous challenges, the Jewish people have always found creative ways in which to continue the tradition and pass the Bible on from generation to generation. The Bible quiz at this time has a very important message – that even in times when the Jewish people and all of humanity are facing a challenge that paralyzes the world, the book of books continues its exciting tradition. Personally, it really excites me that the Bible quiz that my mother founded 57 years ago continues at this time and even serves as a virtual bridge that unites Jewish young men and women from around the world.”
Rabbi Eliyahu Silverman said “We are all very proud of Batsheva’s achievement. She has worked extremely hard and this is certainly a well-deserved honour.”
The event can be viewed at 9am BST on Wednesday, 29th April on YouTube stream embedded at the top of this page.