es that I did not understand, but were
fluent in the language of Torah."
Dovi added, "It was like Kibbutz
Galuyot (the Ingathering of the Exiles).
You really sensed the shared heritage
of our people, aheinu kol belt Yisrael.
It took no time at all for all of us to
feel like family"
Study, Study, Study
It has been a long road for Dovi and
Elizabeth. To qualify for the inter-
national competition, students must
first sit for a series of regional exams
that culminates in a national test, call-
ing for the mastery of more than 100
A year ago, they bested some 400
regional finalists representing the fin-
est Jewish day schools in the U.S. Since
then, they have completed the intense
study of an additional 300 chapters,
all under the guidance of their teacher
and mentor Rabbi Pinchas Amior. The
rabbi, who came to Akiva three years
ago, was recognized by the Jewish
Agency for Israel as this year's top
moreh shaliach (teaching emissary) in
He has inspired some 40 Akiva stu-
dents to become involved in the Hidon
experience throughout his tenure at
At the end of this long road was a
three-week experience in Israel for
Elizabeth, Dovi and the rest of the 70
young scholars who qualified to rep-
resent their respective countries. This
program, organized by the IDF, took
the contestants all over the country.
They met personally with Olmert and
President Shimon Peres for question-
On Yom HaShoah (Holocaust
Memorial Day), after the Hidon group
took part in national commemora-
tions regarding the Holocaust, they sat
for a qualifying exam that eliminated
all but the 16 who would stand on
stage at the Jerusalem Theater.
On Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Heroes
Memorial Day), the day before the
contest, they were given a special tour
of Givat HaTahmoshet, Ammunition
Hill. Nor did their program end with
the Hidon itself. Afterwards they
received hands-on military training
from Gadna-Gedudei Noar, Israel's
pre-military youth program.
Finally, a gala awards banquet
brought the proceedings to a close.
The contestants dispersed to their
respective countries, having gained
a heightened sense of their identities
as Jewish people and a rich supply
of fond memories, along with a list
of telephone numbers and e-mail
"Preparing for Hidon represents an
enormous commitment of time and
energy on the part of our students;'
Amior said. "As proud as I am of Dovi
and Elizabeth, I am prouder still to be
involved in a program that instills a
love of Torah study in the hearts of our
Yeshivat Akiva sent 12 representa-
tives to this year's national competi-
tion. Eighth-grader Justin Delman was
one of three students who tied for first
place in the middle school division,
eventually finishing third.
"The whole experience was excit-
ing," he said, "although hearing my
name announced made it really spe-
cial. This is my third year doing Hidon,
and I love the sense of accomplish-
ment it has given me."
Tenth-grader Eryn Fox, also a three-
time competitor at the national level,
said, "I would have to say that the best
part of Hidon has been working with
Rabbi Amior. We are so lucky to have
such a dedicated and enthusiastic
teacher. The Hidon was also a bond-
ing experience for all of us. On Yom
HaAtzmaut, I got up at 4 in the morn-
ing to watch the Hidon and root for
Dovi and Elizabeth."
Ariella Nadel, Dovi's mother, said, "I
was amazed to see the excitement that
the Hidon generates throughout Israel,
among Jews of every persuasion. My
family and I collected compliments on
Dovi's performance from people we
had never met.
"A number of Israelis told me they
did not remember the last time an
American had placed among the top
three. This is an experience we will
Akiva's educational director, Rabbi
Yigal Tsaidi, said, "In its most funda-
mental context, the Hidon is a means
to elevate and deepen the students'
understanding of Tanach, the heritage
of all Jewish people.
"Beyond this, the experience pro-
vides an opportunity for our students
to meet other young men and women
from all over the diaspora and con-
nect with them on a very profound
"As Elizabeth, Dovi and the entire
Hidon community know, the Tanach
is, has always been, and will continue
to be our eternal treasure."
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