Modern Orthodox contestants took all three top spots in Israel’s Independence Day World Bible Contest for Youth that was held in Jerusalem Thursday. The winner was Yonatan Weissman, 18, a resident of Jerusalem studies at the Degel Yerushalayim yeshiva in Nachalim. Benjamin Colchamiro, 15, a New Jersey resident who attends the Kushner Yeshiva in Livingston, New Jersey, took second place.

Sixteen contestants from Israel and abroad reached the final phase of the contest, having defeated 74 pre-final participants from more than 30 different countries, including: USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, France, South Africa and Panama.

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The World Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth is a Bible proficiency contest that takes place in Israel every year on Independence Day, with participating Israeli and international Jewish youth and in the presence of the prime minister and the education minister. This quiz is the final stage of a long process in which thousands of Jewish youths participate worldwide.

The contestants who make the world quiz from all over the world and from Israel participate in a Bible camp that lasts about two weeks, where a World Quiz and the Diaspora Quiz are held, along with trips around the country and meetings with VIPs. During the camp, dozens of contestants take a written test, which determines who will participate in the public world quiz on Independence Day.

Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, addressed the 2019 Independence Day International Bible Quiz, saying, “The State of Israel has experienced the most prosperous and successful era it has known, but during these very days, one of the greatest disasters in the history of the Jewish people is taking place – we are losing millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. Like an iceberg melting away, so many of our people are slipping away before our eyes.”

“The State of Israel must act, without delay, with all our strength, creativity, and determination, in order to save our brothers and sisters, members of the Jewish People around the world, from assimilation and antisemitism. For seventy years the State of Israel was the project of the Jewish People. It is now our turn to look out for them: it is our duty to ensure the Jewish People will be the project of the State of Israel. Whenever we needed financial or political assistance, the Jews of the world mobilized to help. Our central principle, that “all Jews are responsible for one another” does not end at Ben-Gurion Airport Customs.”

“Israel is making great efforts and taking important steps in this direction, but it is still far from enough. What we will do, the Government of Israel, the Israel people, in the coming years, will shape the future of our people for hundreds of years to come.”

The Minister noted that “Israel is now in its eighth decade. If Israel were to be torn apart again from the inside, if brothers were to again raise their hands against each other, we will not get another chance. Now is our great moment to show how the State of Israel stands forever as a model Jewish state, sovereign and united, despite the divisions. Our disagreements are the blessing and the curse of the Jewish people.”

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