Inside America’s Biggest Teen Bible Contest

May 24, 2023 | Olivia Reingold
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Last month, 325 middle- and high-school students gathered in the Bronx to take part in a massive, nationwide biblical-trivia competition. The four winners will go on to the international contest in Israel. Olivia Reingold reports:

Each year, dozens of countries participate in the international Chidon Ha-Tanach, but since 1958, when Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, founded the contest, Israelis have won 57 out of the 60 years it’s been held. . . . American contestants have been victorious just four times—and two of those were ties with an Israeli. (The only other champion from another country was Canadian, crowned in 2014.)

The test includes puzzlers such as: About whom is it said: “A hairy man with a leather belt tied around his waist”? (Answer: Elijah), and Which of the following does not relate to the number 70? (Answer: number of kindred killed by Athalia.)

Statistics show that the younger you are, the less likely you are to read the Bible (either testament). Each new generation of American Jews seems to grow less connected to its faith, with the latest data showing that Jews in the U.S. are about half as likely as Christians to say religion is “very important” to them. But the kids gathered in this gym are more likely to carry a copy of the Hebrew Bible than a smartphone.

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