Two high school students from the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, NJ are ranked among the top three high cumulative scorers in the international Chidon HaTanach competition.
Founded by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Chidon HaTanach is a worldwide competition on Tanach for middle and high school students. The final is held annually in Yerushalayim on Israel’s Independence Day. Because the event is officially sponsored by the Israeli government, the Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Education usually attend. In 2010, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu stood in as both father and Prime Minister as his then-fifteen year old son Avner took third place overall in the final.
With the US rankings released just last night, Shana Erblich, a Bruriah sophomore from Hillside, NJ and Noah Pascher, a freshman in the RTMA boys mesivta division, of Elizabeth, NJ will be heading to the national finals in Manhattan on May 14th.
Advancing through three levels of rigorous testing over the past number of months, an additional four JEC students representing the boys’ middle and high school division – the Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy (RTMA) and the girls’ junior and high school division – Bruriah have also qualified for the finals. Among them are Bruriah sophomore Mili Chizik of Highland Park, NJ and 7th grader Shana Schwartz of Hillside, NJ, and RTMA freshman Ben Tziyon Kapustin of West Orange, NJ and 8th grader Dovid Pascher of Elizabeth, NJ.
Hosted by Mahattan Day School in New York City, the final round of testing will incorporate the entire Chidon HaTanach syllabus for this year that includes selections from Sefer Devarim, Sefer Melachim Aleph and Beis, Sefer Iyov, the entire Megillas Rus, and for the high school students also selections from Sefer Yirmiyahu.
Some of the students expressed how they were following in their parents’ footsteps with the competition.
“My father also did Chidon when he was growing up in Canada,” said finalist RTMA freshman Ben Tziyon Kapustin of West Orange, NJ. “This is very exciting!”
The school is proud of the students as well. “Nothing makes us more gratified and inspired than students who are going Above the Code and spending whatever free time they have in mastering more of the Sifrei HaTanach,” enthused RTMA Principal Rabbi Ami Neuman. “These students demonstrate how essential that learning is in our lives and they do so with real enthusiasm and energy. It is exceptionally rewarding to count them among our students.”