This post first appeared on The Arty Semite blog at the Forward.
For the first time in its 50-year history, Israel’s annual International Bible Contest for high school students ended in a tie. This year’s winners were Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh and Yishai Eisenberg of Passaic, N.J. Eisenberg, a student at Yeshiva University High School, is the first American to win the contest in 20 years.
Fifty-eight teens from over 26 countries took part and were eliminated in the competition’s earlier rounds. They came from Australia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Holland, Hungary, Uruguay, Italy, England, Estonia, Argentina, Panama, the United States and Mexico.
The annual Yom Ha’atzmaut event drew a huge audience at The Jerusalem Theater and was held under the auspices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who not only presented the prizes to the winners, but also contributed the most challenging questions of the contest’s final round.
When the nervous Eisenberg and more relaxed Babian continued to have tied scores after each answered 12 of Netanyahu’s questions, the contest’s panel of judges decided to break with precedent and name both teenagers the winners.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.