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Etgar launches new Israel challenge for teenagers

The first Etgar contest for secondary schools will run on Israel Independence Day

    Etgar Challenge 2017
    Etgar Challenge 2017

    Etgar, which organises the annual general Jewish knowledge challenge for primary schools, has launched a new venture for secondary school pupils.

    Its first quiz on Israel, aimed at 14-year-olds in year nine, will take place on Yom Ha’atzmaut next month as part of the celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary.

    Just as with the primary challenge, Etgar has produced an illustrated handbook of facts for students to swot up ahead of the competition.

    The new, 100-page publication covers Israeli history, politics, culture and society with an opening section of more than 80 key dates in modern Jewish history that go from the Haskalah, the Enlightenment in the 18th century, to 2017, when Israel was ranked 12th in the international happiness index.

    According to Etgar co-founders Adam Taub and Jo Rosenfelder, “many children in Jewish schools cannot answer basic questions about Israel. But when they leave for university, many of these same children will enter an environment that is extremely hostile. 

    “They will be confronted by claims about Israel that are biased or false. Without a strong understanding of how and why the state of Israel came into being, their support for Israel may be undermined." 

    The lack of knowledge among Jewish pupils of Israeli history was highlighted last year by the incoming chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, who wants Jewish schools to teach it better. 

    The Etgar Israel Handbook contains sections on the different strands of Zionist thought, from the cultural Zionism of Ahad Ha’am, to the religious idealism of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook; key moments such as the United Nations partition plan, to Israel’s various wars; influential figures, from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Egyptian President and peacemaker Anwar Sadat; and artistic personalities from Nobel literary laureate Shai Agnon to rock musician Arik Einstein. There is even one on Israeli innovation which includes the USB flash drive and cherry tomatoes.

    It does not shy away from difficult episodes such as the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 or Baruch Goldstein’s slaughter of Muslim worshippers in Hebron in 1994.

    “We want young Jewish students to know the information in the handbook by heart,” Ms Rosenfelder said.

    As well as answering questions, contestants will also be set a creative challenge at the event.

    “We have seen from Etgar the power of a quiz,” said Mr Taub. “It motivates the students, it measures how well they have learnt the material and it celebrates their achievement. 

    “The quiz is a powerful experience that helps students to master and retain the knowledge.” 

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