Rabbi Menahem Meier flew to Israel to watch his student, Joshua Meier (no relation), compete in the 47th International Bible Contest on Israel’s 62nd anniversary. Joshua, 14, was one of two participants representing the United States among 75 contestants from 22 countries. His parents, Ronny and Elizabeth, also went along.
For one year, Meier worked with the home-schooled teen to master nearly 500 chapters, including sections from lesser-known books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah, and Proverbs.
“Joshua proved to be a formidable contender, scoring third from those in the diaspora and sixth in the larger group that included Israelis,” wrote Meier, the founding principal of The Frisch School in Paramus, to The Jewish Standard. The winner was Or Ashual, a 17-year-old girl. Avner Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister, captured third place.
|Josh Meier with his teacher, Rabbi Menahem Meier.|
Avner was Josh’s roommate during the two-and-a-half-week traveling camp for participants sponsored by the Israeli government and the Jewish National Fund. Contestants got acquainted as they toured historical sites, slept at an army base, and met VIPs. Many had already corresponded via a Facebook group that Josh began beforehand.
“Avner moved to our room because he saw me and another Israeli studying together,” said Josh, whose father is Israeli. “He had been rooming with a South American who wanted to be with Spanish speakers, and he wanted to be with Hebrew speakers.”
Elizabeth Meier said her son studied at least six hours a day for the Hidon. “Rabbi Meier is an amazing mentor and role model and Josh bonded with him incredibly,” she said. “He learned almost the entire Tanach by heart and he was the youngest competitor there.”
Meier said that the prime minister spoke of the Tanach as “the book that unites all Jews, religious and secular, young and old, those living in Israel and those in the diaspora.”
The contestants – from places as diverse as Panama and Lithuania, Holland and Brazil -responded to questions in the packed Jerusalem Theater before television cameras. “Each question in one round was preceded by a brief video of contemporary Israeli achievements or challenges, leading to the actual question,” Meier related. “In another section, the students were called upon to respond rapidly, within 45 seconds.”
In the final round, Josh correctly identified the source for the phrase “from Jordan to Jerusalem,” which refers to the population that declared its loyalty to King David following the rebellion staged by his son Avshalom.
Three years ago, Josh took first prize in an international Hidon on the history of Jerusalem. A composer and pianist, he mentors an autistic boy in music. Upon his return from Israel, he dove right back into studies with Meier, appropriately beginning the book of Joshua. Abigail Klein Leichman