Israel National News reports that a 15-year-old boy won the 2015 International Bible Contest for youth that took place on Thursday morning. The winner was Eyal Yitzhak Matas, a resident of Rehovot. He did so well in the contest because he studies the Bible at Darchei Noam, a private religious academy in Petah Tikva.
The International Bible Contest for youth is held each year on Israel Independence Day. The Bible contest is one of the day’s traditions that has been held 52 times. According to the Ministry of Education, the purpose of the Bible contest is to unite the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora around the Bible.
This year’s theme was “Kibbutz Galuyot,” which means ingathering of the Diasporas. The theme is based on a verse from the book of Ezekiel that focuses on the coming together of exiles.
Eyal was one of 67 contestants from 33 different countries, including Canada, Mexico, Panama, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, and the United States. The contestants were narrowed down to 16 finalists from Israel and foreign countries. No one from the United States made it into the finals.
When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with the contestants earlier this week, he wished them success with the contest. He also reminded them how important the Bible is.
“The Bible is the foundation of our lives. We would not exist without it. It reflects our identity and our values, which grew in this Land. It also reflects the great hopes of our people to return to our homeland and build our homes there. The Bible is like an ever flowing spring and I wish you all success.”
Ynetnews listed the top winners. The first place winner was Eyal Yitzhak Matas. The second place winner was Yisrael Elgrabli from Horev Yeshiva High School in Jerusalem. In third place was Arad Kotzer from Ashdod, and in fourth place was Ryan Raphael Ripsman from Canada. No contestant from the United States was a winner even though it must have been a powerful experience for all the contestants.
The winner of the International Bible Contest wins a four-year college scholarship to Bar Ilan University. The second place winner gets a scholarship to Mechon Lev.
At the end of the competition, Netanyahu made an appeal to the contestants who had come from all over the world. He called on them to make aliyah to Israel.
“Now you can go back to your homes. But return to us, to the Land of Israel. Make aliyah to the State of Israel. We are waiting for you.”
“Aliyah” is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel. “Aliyah” is also defined as “the act of going up” or as in progressing towards Jerusalem. The opposite action is known as “yerida” which is the act of going down from Israel.
[Image via Israel National News]