Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Boycott the Chidon HaTanach?

Bat-El Levi, 15, from Be'er Sheva is one of the 4 Israeli finalists in the Chidon HaTanach, the international Bible competition for Jewish teens sponsored by Israel. She is also a Messianic Jew who believes in Jesus.

From The Jerusalem Post:

The controversy surrounding the participation of 16-year-old Bat-El Levi, from Beersheba, began last week as a result of a campaign led by the haredi anti-missionary organization Yad Le'Achim.

Yad Le'Achim discovered that Levi belonged to a messianic Jewish congregation. The organization immediately contacted rabbis and other spiritual leaders. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leading religious Zionist halachic authority, called to boycott the quiz if the messianic Jew did not forfeit her participation. His call was joined by other rabbis aligned with religious Zionism, including Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu.

Sources close to the Levi family, who did not deny their ties with a messianic Jewish congregation, said there had been attempts by Yad Le'Achim to dissuade Bat-El from taking part in the competition. A group of activists demonstrated in Dimona when the participants came to the Negev town for a preliminary quiz.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. One the one hand, the Chidon HaTanach has always been the pride of young Jews showing their knowledge of Torah in an international competition. Should that be spoiled by the spectacle of a girl who believes in Jesus possibly winning this thing and becoming a point of pride for Messianic Jews and creating an opportunity for increased openness to missionary activity?

On the other hand, this is a Jewish girl living in Israel who has studied hard and has gotten where she is on the basis of merit. Is it fair to bar her?


  1. Is this competition only meant for orthodox jews? I think I have heard of this competition before and I'm pretty sure Jews of all sects are invited. Let's say there was a reform teen who was doing well in the competition. Would they be pissed about that too because that person rips toilet paper on shabbas?

  2. Jim Crow never died. He now works for Yad L'Achim and other Orthodox who resent the fact that a woman, and messianic Jew won the International Bible Contest. If the orthodox are allowed to lead Israeli society into discriminating against Messianic Jewish women, who will be next?

  3. It doesn't really matter what Shlomo Aviner says, nor if he happens to be correct on this issue or not. Rabbis Lior, Yosef, and Levanon remind us that since Shlomo Aviner instructs people to transgress Torah prohibitions punishable by Karet, one may not ask him, listen to him on ANY issue, nor trust in his articles or books:

  4. Stan,

    Are you a messianic jew?

    Your attempt to conflate her being female and being messianist is nonsense. Girls have won or come in high place in the chidon hatanach in the past and no one has objected. The objections here have nothing to do with her gender.

  5. To discriminate based on belief or not to discriminate based on belief... that's even a question? Come on. Do you seriously even have to ask if a girl who happens to believe in Jesus can enter a contest?

    If a messianic jew wins, I'd be tickled pink. Maybe more people would start learning Tanakh and realizing how false and immoral it is.

  6. this is a very tough question. i think i lean more toward not letting her in than letting her in. i do believe that its very different to be a secular jew or a reform or conservative jew than it is to be a messianic jew. christians were messianic jews before they broke off and called themselves christians.messianic jew is just another name for christian in my mind. is there a rule that the contestants must be jewish?

  7. I definantly think that she should never be allowed to enter the chidon hatanach test. Jessica, they do let reform jews participate in chidon hatanach, but she isn't jewish. Se is a 'jews for Jesus', which is basicly a believer in Jesus. IF she is allowed to participate then missionaries will begin to say that they can even master our tanach.

  8. if the contest is for jews, she is not qualified. "messianic jew" is an oxymoron.
    p.s. (and i'm not even jewish)

  9. I agree that this is a tough question and it is complicated by an additional underlying question. The apparent question is: are non-Jews allowed to participate.

    The underlying question that makes me incredibly uneasy is the perpetual problem with "Jews for Jesus" groups and their mission: Are Jews for Jesuses Jews or should they be considered Jews? As a friend once pointed out to me, "Jews for Jesus" is a missionary effort that targets Jews and is clearly a Christian sect. It is not Jewish by any means, by any ones account. The only difference of JforJ and other Christian groups is that they tend to use many Jewish rituals and Jewish customs in their ceremonies and ways of life--to make the transition for the Jews into a Christian belief system easier. A JforJ believer who has Jewish lineage is just that: A Christian with a Jewish ancestry (of which they are many). You don't even have to be a Jew to join their group. It is a Christian sect with Jewish ornaments.

    Anyhow, whether a non-Jew should be allowed to participate in Chidon HaTanach is another issue. I think, why not? But a JforJ I don't think should be allowed to participate as a Jew, that's just confusing everyone in the direction of helping their mission.

  10. Yoni, how do you know that her mother isn't jewish? I believe that once a jew, always a jew no matter what you believe.

  11. B"H An oved avodah zarah is not considered "keYisrael klal klal."

    We do not accept their tshuvah even. We may not count them in a minyan, we may not use their Torah scrolls they may have written, etc.

    This girl may be considered "ketinoq nishba" {a child captured and raised by goyim, thus doesn't know any better}. We still must not validate her beliefs which are of course, lies, and spiritual Jewicide.

  12. Sorry. Forgot to cite my sources.

    See Mishnah Torah Hil. Avodah Zarah weHuqoth haGoyim and Hil. Tshuvah.

    If you see a version which has Hil. "Akum," it is a censored version, and should be set aside in favor of one which has not been, such as Rav Frankel, or Mishnah Torah Foundation.

  13. Can a Messianic Habadnik enter the competition?

  14. Yehudha, Interesting question. I still think that the Chabbad Meshichistim haven't crossed the Xian line,...yet.

  15. You forgot Andrew Jackson’s Big Block of Cheese with nary a macaroni in sight.