Her name is Bat-El Levi, an 11th grader from Pisgat Ze'ev. She must know her Bible very well. Congratulations, Bat-El! I wish you well in the finals. Her success, however, has created quite a controversy.
Levi won this year's national bible quiz for state schools and will be one of four finalists from Israel competing for the International Bible Quiz Championship on Independence Day [Independence Day this year is May 18; I think the contest finals are as early as this week]. [snip]
The Education Ministry said in response to a query from The Jerusalem Post that the “Global Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth” was open only to Jewish pupils. Regarding Messianic Jews, the pupil in question was Jewish, and therefore, according to the ministry’s legal department, was not disqualified from participating.
But that hasn’t stopped a number of rabbis from organizing a boycott against the International Bible Contest to protest Bat-El’s inclusion. They include Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, Ya’acov Yosef, son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Tzvi Tau, head of Har Hamor Yeshiva, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. Aviner said:
It is forbidden to give [messianic Jews] legitimacy by allowing them to take part in the quiz.
I understand that statement from a religious point of view. Nonetheless, with all due respect, it should be obvious that the call for a boycott is extraordinarily positive free advertising for Messianic Judaism in Israel. Can’t Aviner figure that out? It reminds me of the protests in Italy when a non-Italian won the Miss Italia beauty contest. The protests made the winner a national celebrity. No, I will not provide a link to photos in documentation of the fact. But here’s a lovely photo of Bat-El: