The National Bible Contest (Chidon HaTanach) is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for American Jewish youth in grades 6-11.
For a PDF containing complete information for the Chidon, download
The following is a brief run through of the competition.
• The contest tests students on the details of stories in several Biblical books. For a list of the books that we will be studying this year, see our syllabus.
• Day School students (of all denominations) take exams in Hebrew, with separate exams for junior high students and high school students (through grade 11). Students in grades 6-11 who attend Supplementary Schools or have no formal Jewish education prepare with the NJPS translation and take an exam in English for grades 6-11. Community Day School and other non-denominational Jewish Day Schools can request special permission to participate in the English exams, depending on the nature of Judaic Studies at their school.
• The Jewish Agency sends preliminary exams to schools during the school year (from December to March). On the basis of those preliminary exams, we invite high scorers to the national finals in New York in May. Four champions from the contest in New York win the opportunity to represent the USA in the subsequent year’s International Contest in Jerusalem, which is nationally televised in Israel on Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).
• Last year, approximately 600 students took the preliminary exams. Of these, approximately 200 students traveled to New York to participate in the national finals.
My child’s school does not want run a class/club for the Chidon. Can my child still participate?
Yes. We strongly prefer that your child participate in the context of his/her school. Participating through a school is always simpler logistically (e.g. for administering the exams), and we believe that children benefit from preparing and reviewing the material with their peers in a group setting, even though most of a successful contestant’s studying will be done on his/her own, outside of school. Therefore, even if a school does not want to offer an organized Chidon club, we still prefer that you ask the school if they will agree to receive and administer the regional exams, and we also encourage you to explore the possibility of joining a study group with a Tanach teacher outside of school. Nevertheless, when none of these options exist, we do permit your child to register as a “private registrant.” When registering as a “private registrant,” it becomes the parents’ responsibility to find a proctor for Chidon regional exams. Private registrants are not eligible to be declared Regional Champion after the regional exams, but they are able to participate in the nationals finals just like all other contestants.
We are Israelis who currently live in the US. Are my children eligible for the US Chidon?
It’s complicated. Any child in grades 6-11 who is currently living in the US is permitted to take part in the US NATIONAL Chidon. However, children who are considered Israeli according to the Chidon rules are not eligible to win the trip to Israel. In order to be eligible to win the trip to Israel, your child must have been living in the Diaspora for 6 years at the time of the US finals, so that they will have been outside of Israel for 7 years before the trip to Israel. In addition, children of official Israeli שליחים (emissaries) or Israeli government employees are not eligible to win the trip to Israel, regardless of how long they have lived outside Israel.
Why does the syllabus for the year sometimes contain chapters that do not appear on any of the Regional Exams?
Depending on the quantity of chapters and their level of difficulty, we sometimes decide that the syllabus has too many chapters for the Regional Exams. In those cases, the additional chapters will appear on the National Exam in May. For example, the 2012-2013 high-school syllabus included many chapters of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). In order to make the last Regional Exam manageable, we limited how much of Yirmiyahu would appear on that exam, but we then added more chapters to the National Exam. In 2013-2014, there were chapters in Bereishit (Genesis) and Shoftim (Judges) that appeared on the National Exam but not on any Regional Exam.
Who decides the rules and policies of the US Chidon?
The National Coordinator runs the Chidon on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He appoints the Steering Committee, an advisory body that includes former Chidon coordinators, former Chidon champions, and current Chidon coaches. The Steering Committee debates and advises regarding any significant change in the Chidon’s rules and policies. In addition, the US Chidon follows all rules of the International Chidon regarding our contestants’ eligibility to participate in the International Chidon.
Chidon FAQ will be updated in Summer 2020. Please be in touch with Dovin@jafi.org with any questions.
For more information, be in contact with Dovi Nadel at Dovin@jafi.org