|The 2012 finalists on stage at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at the center and Rabbi Ezra Frazer is fifth from left.|
Do you know which biblical king directed which priest to collect money for repairing the Holy Temple, and where that priest deposited the money? (Hint: See Kings II.)
Can you name the prophet who said, “Let them use grain for our food and water for our drink?” (Hint: It’s in the book of Daniel.)
If you have a gift for Bible trivia like this, and if you will be at least 25 years old by June, you’ll be happy to know that registration is now open for the next Bible Contest for Adults in the diaspora. The application deadline is April 1, 2014.
Those contestants who score the highest on preliminary rounds in their native countries will be eligible for a free trip to Israel for the international finals, to be held on the final night of Chanukah, December 23, in Jerusalem. The trip includes 10 days of rehearsals, touring, and accommodations in five-star hotels, all paid for by Israel’s Ministry of Education.
Teaneck’s Rabbi Ezra Frazer, who coordinates the National Bible Contest for Jewish Youth sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, says he can think of two great reasons to sign up. And he should know; Frazer took second place in the international adult contest during Chanukah 2011, winning the equivalent of about $8,000 in addition to other prizes.
“There are two ways people can look at it,” said Rabbi Frazer, an instructor of Bible at Yeshiva University. “If you have a chance of being a winner, the experience of going to Israel at Chanukah time and meeting Jews from all around the world from diverse backgrounds is a very special experience.
“If you won’t be a contender to win, it can be eye-opening and exciting to learn these texts for the first time or second time. Especially for those who once learned the material – perhaps teachers who teach the same curriculum again and again, or adults who don’t have time to review what they learned in their youth – this is a chance to refresh your memory.”
In 1994, when he was a sophomore at the Torah Academy of Bergen County, Rabbi Frazer won the National Bible Contest for Jewish Youth, and he placed fifth in the 1995 international competition. He said that studying the texts as an adult gave him new insights.
The overall motto of the Bible Contest for Adults is “Returning to the Book of Books”; the theme for next year’s competition is wisdom.
Contestants will need detailed familiarity with the entire book of Genesis; Exodus 1-24 and 31-34; Leviticus 19 and 23-25; Numbers 10-36; Deuteronomy 20-34; Joshua 1-11, 14, 17-18, and 22-24; and the entire books of Judges, Samuel 1-2, and Kings 1-2. Those who advance to the diaspora nationals on September 16 also will be responsible for studying Isaiah 1-12 and 40-66; Jeremiah 1-23 and 30-33; Ezekiel 1-14 and 33-39; Proverbs 1-10 and 22-31; the Song of Songs, Ruth, and Esther; Ezra 1, 3, 4, and 7-10; and the entire book of Nehemiah.
The adult version of the contest was revived in 2010 after a long hiatus and was opened to diaspora Jews the following year, for the first time in 32 years. More than 300 Jewish men and women in 42 countries participated in the early stage, and 23 qualified for the international contest, where they were pitted against Israeli national winners. They came from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, Spain, Uruguay, and the United States.
Margalit Gabbay of Israel’s education ministry said that contestants’ ages ranged from 28 to 67, and many of them otherwise could not have afforded a vacation in Israel. “It was very emotional for us and for them, especially for those who had not been here before,” she said. The international group became close during their pre-contest touring, and continue to share photos and updates on their Facebook pages.
Ms. Gabbay added, “Last year was a pilot, so it was a small version of what we are planning for next year. Our goal is to have more national competitions, like we have with the youth competition, and more competitors.”
The Israeli national winner, Bible teacher Menahem Shimshi, was chosen on December 3 and will face the diaspora finalists next year, along with second- and third-place winners Hanenel Malka and Yoram Gold.
For information on applying for the diaspora competition, go to Edu.gov.il/ibc.