Four Akiba-Schechter students will compete in the 2018 US National Chidon HaTanach (Bible Contest) in New York

Students from Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, 5235 S. Cornell Ave., (left to right) Aaron Faier (8th grade), Yaakov David (7th grade), Netanel Barsky (7th grade) and Toibeh Sarah Gersten,(7th grade) (not pictured) were invited to compete in the US National Chidon HaTanach Bible Contest in New York on April 29. – Photo courtesy of Akiba-Schecher Jewish Day School

By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Herald Intern

Four students from Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, 5235 S. Cornell Ave., were invited to compete in the 2018 US National Chidon HaTanach (Bible Contest) finals in New York this April after receiving top scores in their school exams.

Akiba students Toibeh Sarah Gersten, 7th grade; Yaakov David, 7th grade; Netanel Barsky, 7th grade, and Aaron Faier, 8th grade will be traveling to New York to participate in the competition.

The national finals for this year’s Chidon HaTanach, the US National Bible Contest for Jewish Youth, will take place on Sunday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Manhattan Day School, 310 W. 75th St., in New York.

The competition, sponsored by the Jewish Agency for American Jewish youth in grades 6-11 a group that inspires Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage, and homeland, will test contestant’s knowledge of all their respective division’s materiel. The Chidon has three divisions: a Hebrew Middle School Division, Hebrew High School Division, and English Division. During the contest, students will be tested on the details of stories in several Biblical books.

This year, out of 500 participants from over 80 schools and clubs around the country, only the top 200 have been crowned as national finalists and will move on to compete in New York, according to a press release from the Chidon HaTanach,

“We are very proud of our students going on to New York to compete in the National Bible Contest,” said Rabbi Jeff Holman, director of Judaic Studies at Akiba-Schechter. “They worked really hard throughout the school year, often giving up their lunch break to do so. We are particularly proud of their amazing level of team work.”

Matty Schinasi was the teacher who studied with the students and mentored them for the competition.

When scores came up earlier this month, the school posted a special Mazal Tov to Faier and David on the website. On qualifying exams, David scored in the top three of the nation for the 6th/7th grade category, and Faier came in first place nationally for the 8th grade category.

“Two of our students had already competed last year, so we expected there to be two groups going for this,” Rabbi Holman said. “Instead, the four of them really buoyed each other and achieved amazing scores together.”

In order to qualify, the Jewish Agency sends preliminary exams to schools during the school year (from December to March). On the basis of those preliminary exams, high scorers are invited to the national finals in New York. Four champions from the contest in New York will win the opportunity to represent the USA in the subsequent year’s International Contest in Jerusalem, which is nationally televised in Israel on Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).

Last year, approximately 400 students took the preliminary exams. Of these, approximately 180 students traveled to New York to participate in the national finals.

hpherald@hpherald.com