Jew for Jesus could win Israel Bible quiz

May 6, 2008

An Israeli with the Jewish Bible, 27 July 2004/Gil Cohen MagenA 17-year-old Israeli girl is a leading contender to win the country’s annual youth Bible quiz, but there’s a controversial twist: She believes in Jesus.

Tipped off about Bat El Levy’s beliefs, an anti-missionary group has called on religious Jews to boycott the May 8 contest, at which she will compete against 15 other teenagers from Israel and abroad for a prize awarded by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The group, Yad L’Ahim, has invoked Israeli law forbidding Christians from proselytizing in the Jewish state. But there is more at stake in the quiz, which is held on Israel’s 60th
Independence Day — the question of who has a better command of holy writ.

In a protest letter quoted by Israel’s Maariv newspaper, Yad L’Ahim chairman Rabbi Shlomo Dov Lipschitz said Levy “has a chance of becoming the world Bible champion” and that this could “greatly encourage” the spread of Christianity among Jews. He further argued that Levy should be disqualified from the quiz because she is, in his view, non-Jewish.

This was rejected by Israel’s Education Ministry, which runs the Bible quiz. “The girl is designated as Jewish, and her personal beliefs are not a matter of concern to us,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

Levy could not be reached for comment. A relative of the girl, who has already proved her scriptural mettle in regional Israeli contests, said she was busy studying for the quiz.

A 1,000-year-old parchment from a Hebrew Bible manuscript, 2 December, 2007/Ammar AwadThe relative, who declined to be named, confirmed that Levy and her family “believe in Yeshua Ben-David, the saviour from Nazareth” — Jesus’s Hebrew name. But Yad L’Ahim was wrong in branding Levy a missionary, the family member said.

“The family keeps its faith to itself. To these people, anyone who disagrees with their version of Jewish belief is the enemy. I hope God pays them back in kind,” the relative said.

Representatives of Israeli Jews who believe in Jesus say the community numbers between 8,000 and 10,000, out of a total population of more than 7 million. These so-called Jewish Christians keep a low profile to avoid causing offence in a state where many blame centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe on Christian dogma.

There is also an issue of personal safety. Jewish Christians have on occasion been targeted for attack. In March, a homemade bomb was left in a building in the Jewish
settlement of Ariel, in the occupied West Bank, where members of the community resides. A boy was maimed. Last October, a Jerusalem church that holds services in Hebrew was damaged in a firebomb attack.

Should Levy’s beliefs disqualify her from this contest? Would it be offensive to Israel or to Jews if she won the Bible quiz?

5 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

What are the ultra-religious fanatics frightened of?
That G-d forbid, 1) a girl should be able to beat them in their knowledge of the bible, 2)
that she believes in a little more than them.

Posted by Ralph Phillips | Report as abusive

Why is it only now that she’s close to winning that this has become an issue? Did they not know her views in the other contests that led her there?
Give the kid a break.

Posted by Clare Haney | Report as abusive

When are the Jews of the group Yad L’Ahim of Israel going to grow up and understand that the Jews did not created man, woman, and this planet Earth? The Jews do not have a license from God to silence the girl call Levy from using Jesus name. It is good to know that Israel’s Education Ministry had the balls to rejected the rubbish of the cult Yad L’Ahim who are looking for trouble. Just because Israel have 6 Nuclear bomb the Jews of the cult Yad L’Ahim does not have the right to intimidate and stop others from using the name of Jesus. My country has 26 nuclear bombs and 32% of the world’s Uranium but we do not silence any religion, cult, group, or infidels because we believe in Free Speech and Human Rights. The Jews of the cult of Yad L’Ahim of Israel are behaving just like the Communist Party. Levy’s beliefs should not disqualify her from the Bible quiz. I really hope that the 17-year-old Israeli girl Levi wins the Bible quiz.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

I think it’s quite unfortunate if this quizzer would be disqualified.

If the quizzer competed according to the rules in place at that time, then they should be allowed to continue.

can you please upgrade this column? how the things gone after that? did they allow the girl to participate in the quiz? who won in that?

Posted by hischild888 | Report as abusive