Bristol grit may see Zara through to sing Hallelujah

Most people come back from gap years with souvenirs and a suntan. Bristol teenager Zara Tobias returned from her time in Israel with a place in an international singing competition.

Zara, 19, is one of 30 hoping to be named the next Jewish star at Israel's Hallelujah contest next month. If she wins she gets £8,700 prize money and the opportunity to record with a top Israeli artist.

Israel's answer to Eurovision was last staged 19 years ago. Contestants sing in Hebrew, with the winner chosen by judges and a public vote on Facebook.

Zara is the only Briton in the show and auditioned in April while on LJY-Netzer's gap year programme.

If she triumphs it will be against the odds; she missed the email telling her she was a finalist after it went to the wrong address, and she was unable to make a promotional video after burning her foot and ending up on crutches. Undeterred, she says she is in the contest to win.

Last updated: 10:42am, July 22 2011