The winners of this year's Bible Contest are Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh and Yishai Eisenberg of New Jersey, a student at Yeshiva University High School.
The annual contest took place at The Jerusalem Theater, under the auspices of PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron. As has been the tradition since the outset of the contest, the PM presented the finalists with the most challenging of the contest questions in the third round.
The two contestants' scores were tied after Netanyahu's question, and they were each presented with twelve difficult questions - completing quotes of verses, identifying a king by the number of years he reigned, etc. - with 5 seconds to answer and no allowance for corrections, as can be seen in the video. Both received perfect scores on this part as well, and before the emcee, linguist Avshalom Kor could add more questions, the judges were so impressed that they decided unaminously to crown both boys as winners. This is the first time in its history that the first place was tied.
Shalhevet Schwartz from the U.S. tied with an Israeli boy for fourth place.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bible contest, held annually on Independence Day as a powerful statement of the nation of Israel's dedication to its national legacy from Sinai, the Divine Testament to its possession of the Land of Israel.
In his speech congratulating the two winners, PM Netanyahu said that he was given a gift of a book on the weekly portion by the Education Minister. The PM thanked Piron, saying that he studies the weekly portion with his son Avner every Shabbat and will make good use of the book.
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) of Beit Shemesh commented; "The entire city is filled with tremendous pride over Elior's victory...In my role in the Knesset seeking to strengthen the bond between Israel and Jewish communities in North America, I see this joint victory as packed with meaning. The bond between Israel and North American jewry must go way beyond simple financial support. We have joint values, built around the Bible, which we must seek to strengthen. I hope that Yishai and Elior sharing the victory platform for the Bible contest will serve as the springboard for numerous projects to strengthen the bond between these communities."