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Israeli teens tie for 1st place in International Bible Quiz

Dvir Merzbach of Safed and Hillel Cohen of Jerusalem share top spot in contest held annually on Independence Day

Dvir Merzbach and Hillel Cohen square off in the final round of the annual International Bible Quiz on Israel's Independence Day, on May 5, 2022. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Dvir Merzbach and Hillel Cohen square off in the final round of the annual International Bible Quiz on Israel's Independence Day, on May 5, 2022. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A pair of Israeli teenagers on Thursday tied for first place in the International Bible Quiz for Youth, held annually on Independence Day.

Dvir Merzbach, a 17-year-old from Safed, and Hillel Cohen, 16, of Jerusalem, went toe-to-toe in the final round after beating out the other 14 contestants.

Neither was able to best the other, however, and they finished with tied scores.

It was the first time since 2013 that the contest had co-winners.

The spelling bee-like contest has teenage contestants answer trivia questions about minute details from the most obscure biblical books. Contestants must locate or complete fragments of biblical verses, identify who said which quotation to whom, or name geographical details of the ancient Land of Israel.

The Bible quiz was attended by several prominent dignitaries, as is traditional, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog, who noted that his mother, Aura, founded the competition in 1958.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog attend the annual International Bible Quiz on Israel’s Independence Day, on May 5, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“She always told me that she wanted it to be written on her headstone that she was the founder of the Bible contest,” said the president, who asked several of the quiz questions.

Bennett quipped during the event that “there isn’t tension like this in politics.” He also championed his government as focused on actions and not words, in an apparent shot at his political rivals.

“There are always those who enter the arena and act, and there are those who sit in the stands chirping harsh criticism about those who are doing,” the prime minister told the contestants.

“I want the youth to know — writing a sharp sentence on TikTok isn’t action. Action is volunteering at charitable organizations, enlisting for military service or national service, helping another person.”

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