CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's chief rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, called for cancellation of the International Bible Quiz because a Messianic Jewish believer made the finals.
"Choosing her as a finalist in the International Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth is a transgression of halacha [Jewish religious law] and is a distortion of the goal and essence of the quiz," the rabbis stated in a letter to Education Minister Yuli Tamir.
"The Chief Rabbinate of Israel vigorously protests [the participation] of this representative," the rabbis wrote.
"Bible quiz participants have always been Jews who believed in the Torah handed down by Moses. The Chief Rabbinate calls to disqualify this girl from taking part in the quiz. If she is not disqualified, we call to cancel the quiz immediately," they stated.
"It is unacceptable that a member of a cult that has removed itself from the Jewish faith will take part in a quiz dedicated to a book that has been holy to the Jews since their inception as a people," the chief rabbis wrote.
Speaking on behalf of Tamir, Lital Apter said the education minister would neither cancel the quiz nor ask 16-year-old Bat-El Levi to withdraw.
The outcry against Levi came after Yad L'Achim, the anti-missionary group, informed the religious hierarchy that the teenager and her family attend a Messianic Jewish congregation in Beersheba.
The bone of contention is that Messianic Jews don't feel that believing in Jesus makes them non-Jewish, while the rabbinic authorities claim they have left the boundaries of Judaism.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a respected authority on halacha who led the call to cancel the quiz, was joined by numbers of other rabbis.
While religious groups are pressuring the other three finalists to boycott the event, scheduled to take place Thursday on Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Independence Day), 15-year-old Tzurit Berenson from northern coastal town of Nahariya, speaking on behalf of the other contestants, said "we have all decided to go ahead with it."
"We asked our own rabbis what to do and they told us that we should participate," Berenson said.
Source: The Jerusalem Post