15th SA Israel Quiz was like no other
In opening last Sunday’s final event, Israel Centre shaliach, Aviad Sela, told the full auditorium that it was “fantastic that two such strong Zionist events could be held in one city, on one evening. The other was what turned out to be DEISI’s highly successful Boksburg event on the East Rand.
“The Israel Quiz is part of a journey,” he told the finalists, and he hoped they would show the depth of their connection with the State of Israel, that they would join the activities that are run by SA Zionist organisations and that they would go on to take responsibility for themselves, their communities, and, ultimately, “to your children”.
Israel’s deputy ambassador, Ayelet Black, said that before she had been posted to SA, “I heard so much about the connection between the community and Israel”.
RIGHT: Telfed CEO Dorron Klein, winner Joshua Arenson and JAFI’s Aviad Sela -Pic: MARK LIVNI for JAFI
The quiz, added ambassador Ayelet, was “just another embodiment” of this connection. “Israel is not only about where we come from,” said Ayelet, “it is about today and the future.” She briefly mentioned some of the technical fields in which Israel leads the world and took the opportunity to wish everyone a Shana Tova for the New Year which starts this weekend.
SA Zionist Federation national chairman Ben Swartz thanked the staff and management at the Israel Centre and the Fed, “and most particularly our participants” for all the hard work they had put in. “We as Jews are really lucky to have a 3 700-year old story.” Said Ben, “but we look to the brightness of our future. Israel has always remained at the heart of who we are. Knowledge – speaking to truth – is what I believe has, and always will be, what sustains us.”
The Fed’s executive director, Nicci Razz, also praised her staff for their co-operation with the Israel Centre in partnering to stage the event.
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The fifteen finalists and the three judges – Pic: MARK LIVNI for JAFI
The three judges were Sela, the doyen of SA Zionist communications, Bev Goldman, and Betar Shaliach Guy Hadad.
It was fitting that the winner came from KDVP as they boasted seven of the 15 finalists, and, unusually for the quiz, Shayna Sundy was the only girl left standing among the finalists.
There were two MCs, Ari Kruger (who in his own indomitable style entertained the audience throughout as question-master), and Dorron Klein, CEO of Telfed in Israel.
Dorron said that he was so pleased to be attending his eighth quiz and pointed out that the event was conceived and started by the Fed’s long-serving and now retired executive Marcia Parness, 15 years ago.
The first round had seen the entrants whittled down to the 15 most qualified. In the second round the final 15 had done a written exam, the results of which were added to their final tallies. This result was then combined with the third and final round which was hosted by ENS in Sandton on Sunday.
This gave the finest 15 their last chance to display their knowledge of Israel, Zionism and Judaism – and the link between the three – leading to the selection of the best of the best.
The Israel Quiz is not a stand-alone programme, says Sela, “it is a synergistic programme” he says which aims to strengthen the local community, He hopes to see it making local Jewish learners more connected to Israel, Zionism, Judaism trilogy and, even, taking a gap-year programme in Israel.
“A student writing an exam can learn from a book,” Aviad Sela told Jewish Report. But the 2016 contest, he said, had been designed between the Jewish Agency, Zionist Federation, shlichim and schools to seek the contestants’ “wider knowledge of this link” with Israel which they would have had to have gained over the years from their schools, attending shul, within their homes, from their families, friends and the community around them.
In the end, KDVP’s Aronson prevailed.
Eliie Joffe of Torah Academy won an iPhone6 16GB; Gaby Nossel of KDVP a 16GB gets iPad mini3; while fourth placed Joshua Nossel (Gaby’s brother) from KDVP and fifth placed Adam Silberman of KDL each won domestic return flights to Cape Town
Sela says that the Israel Centre had worked closely with the SA Zionist Federation on the quiz and that many of their other programmes during the year were designed to feed into this. What impact does he want to have on young Jewish South Africans? “To become active members of the local and/or Israeli community,” he says, “to strengthen themselves and their communities holistically.”
He says that the 2016 Israel Quiz content was not like maths – “it deals with values,” he says, “it is not something you can swot for.”
For the first time this year the Israel Centre’s Cape Town office is also holding a similar event – but with a twist – it is for adults!
Most people know of the Jewish Agency’s Israel Centre in South Africa for their high profile leading role in youth movements and aliyah. But it is much more than that. “As the Jewish Agency we like to interact with the broader community through all South African Jewish organisations,” says Sela.