Two Phoenix middle school students have qualified as finalists in this year’s National Chidon HaTanach (National Bible Contest) competition. Moshe Ullman and Chaim Ungar are both sixth-graders at Torah Day School of Phoenix (TDSP). Ullman and Ungar are Arizona’s first-ever representatives in this prominent event.
Founded by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Chidon HaTanach is a worldwide competition on Tanach for middle- and high-school students. There are currently dozens of Hebrew schools and Jewish day schools across the country participating in the national contest.
“Nothing makes us more gratified and inspired than students who are going out on their own and spending whatever free time they have in mastering more of the books of the Torah,” enthused TDSP Principal Rabbi Shmuel Field. “We are proud of all our students who partook in the Chidon, and we trust that these boys will represent our school well, as well as the state of Arizona.”
Ullman and Ungar will be heading to the national finals in Manhattan on May 14, after advancing through three levels of rigorous testing over the past number of months. Contestants had to study more than 70 chapters on their own, in the original Hebrew text, during the course of the competition.
Hosted by Manhattan Day School in New York City, the final round of testing will incorporate the entire Chidon HaTanach syllabus for this year, which includes selections from the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), Melachim Aleph and Beis (Kings I and II), Iyov (Job), the entire Megillas Rus (Book of Ruth), and for the high school students, selections from Sefer Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah).
The international final is held annually in Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day. Because the event is officially sponsored by the Israeli government, the prime minister of Israel and the minister of education usually attend. In 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood in as both father and in his official capacity as his then-15-year-old son, Avner, took third place overall in the final.