April 20, 2024
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MTA Freshman ties in Israel Bible Contest: First non-Israeli in 20 years to win

NEW YORK–In mid-April, Yishai Eisenberg of Passaic, NJ, a freshman at Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB), became the first non-Israeli in 20 years to win the Chidon HaTanakh, Israel’s annual International Bible Competition for high school students.  Eisenberg, who dominated the competition from the outset, also became the first champion in its 50-year run to share the winner’s circle when he finished the final round in an unprecedented tie with Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh.

An illustration of the country’s desire to connect Jewish independence to Jewish values, the annual contest took place on Yom Ha’atzmaut at The Jerusalem Theater, under the auspices of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron.

“We are all very proud of Yishai’s amazing accomplishment,” said Rabbi Michael Taubes, head of YUHSB, who lives in Teaneck. “We know how much time and effort he put into preparing for this and were all rooting for him. It’s unbelievable just to qualify for the competition, but to actually win is incredible.”

When the international competition began, 58 contestants from over 26 countries took the stage, including representatives from Australia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Holland, Hungary, Uruguay, Italy, England, Estonia, Argentina, Panama, the United States, Mexico, and even Turkey. They were joined by Israel’s top five contestants.

In what was intended to be the tiebreaking round, host Avshalom Kor presented the contestants with a series of difficult questions, allowing them only five seconds to answer and no opportunities to correct themselves. Both Eisenberg and Babian received perfect scores through 12 rounds of head-to-head competition. Before Kor could begin the next round, the judges unanimously declared a tie.

Eisenberg secured a spot in this year’s competition by achieving the only perfect score at the National Bible Contest, which took place at YU on May 6, 2012.

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