YULA Girls Student Sarah Shaye Places Sixth in International Bible Competition

Sarah Shaye, a ninth-grade student at YULA Girls School and former student at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, took sixth place in the Chidon Hatanach (National Bible Contest) competition held in Israel, besting 600 students from over 80 schools in the United States. To get to the final round, she competed against 50 semi-finalists in 30 countries and emerged as one of the top 16 international finalists, just one of three in the United States. At the finals she tied for fourth place, with the tiebreaker giving her sixth-place honors.

The annual competition, held in honor of Israel Independence Day, was broadcast live on Israeli Television on April 15. Due to pandemic restrictions, competitors outside of Israel participated via live stream. Sarah answered the rigorous questions at 1 a.m. Pacific time from her Beverlywood home. Competing students in Israel were onstage and others were in their home countries. The competition lasted well into the early morning hours of Los Angeles time, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally delivering questions to the final four contestants.

Sarah learned more than 450 chapters of Bible (more than half of the Bible) in preparation for the contest.

Sarah learned more than 450 chapters of Bible (more than half of the Bible) in preparation for the contest. The questions are very advanced and technical, so students spend upwards of an entire year studying for the competition.  “Chidon Hatanach has inspired me to learn and love the Tanach (Bible),” Sarah said. “The time I spent learning Tanach has strengthened my commitment to Hashem and has inspired me to continue learning Torah beyond this competition.”

Later that day, a somewhat tired yet excited Sarah was surprised when the entire school threw her a congratulatory celebration and presented her with a special cake to mark the occasion.

Shaye family (L-R) — Hannah, 18 (sister), Kelly (mother), Yaelle, 17 (sister), Sarah, 15 (award winner), Omid (father). Not pictured- Leah, 12 (sister), Michael, 5 (brother)  (Harvey Farr)

“It has been an honor and privilege to represent the Los Angeles Jewish community in the Chidon Hatanach Haolami competition,” Sarah added.

The competition was established in 1958 by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.


Harvey Farr is a local community reporter for the Jewish Journal.

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