17-year-old Kfar Saba girl beats 15 finalists from around the world.
Ashual bested 15 other finalists from all over the world, including the Americas and Australia.
Photo : PM Netanyahu & his son (Avner)
The theme of this year’s competition was the revitalization of the Hebrew language, and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky enthralled the audience with his personal story of first encountering the difficult Hebrew of the Bible in Soviet imprisonment, in what was yet another challenge he overcame that provided him with strength, encouragement and inspiration.
“The Bible is the basis for the existence of the People of Israel and the State of Israel,” the beaming premier stressed. “May you be blessed and become a light unto the nations,” he told the participants in a subtle nod to winner Ashual, whose first name means “light” in Hebrew.
Photo : Sara Netanyahu & her son (Avner Netanyahu)
An excited and proud Binyamin Netanyahu sat through the event with his wife Sara and son Yair, and presented the traditional prime minister’s question, which was handed to him after the contestants had already taken their places away from the audience – in a break from the competition’s tradition.
Both Nachshon and Netanyahu are part of the secular educational system. Avner’s maternal uncle Hagi Ben-Artzi – who, like his two brothers Amatzia and Matanya, is a past winner of the National Bible Quiz and a product of secular schools – pointed out to The Jerusalem Post the enormity of the achievement, saying that it marks a return of the central place of Bible studies to the irreligious population, after some three decades of religious domination in the contest.
“I’m saluting my father here; it’s all thanks to him,” Ben-Artzi said of his own success decades ago and of Avner’s Tuesday achievement, accrediting his father Shmuel for making Bible studies a central part of his children’s upbringing, and for continuing to instill the Bible within his grandchildren. “[Avner and his grandfather Shmuel] meet every day to study the Bible,” Ben-Artzi said.