Berman Hebrew Academy Bible contest winner to go on to international competition

Berman Hebrew Academy’s Tamar Dahan enjoys her victory with Rabbi Dovi Nadel, coordinator of the Chidon Ha’Tanach. | Photo by Jane Haslam Photography

Berman Hebrew Academy student Tamar Dahan says she is a big believer that God is in control of everything.

The 10th grader from Rockville won the national championship in the Chidon HaTanach Bible contest for Jewish youth in New York on May 1. Sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the competition tests students in grades 6-11 on the Hebrew scriptures, or Tanach — composed of Torah, the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Ketuvim).

“I really believe that it’s God who let me succeed,” said Tamar. “I just think that without God’s help, none of this would have happened.”

Tamar has been competing for five years, and made it to the national stage in New York each time. But this was the first time that she won in the national, which qualifies her to compete in the international contest in Israel next spring.

“It felt very surreal when I won,” she said. “Because it was something I always wanted to do. So it made me really excited when it hit me that I won and that I’m moving on to the international event.”

To qualify for the national contest, Tamar completed three tests during the school year, each with 30 multiple choice questions. She was also quizzed about the Jewish texts she read during the year. Tamar was one of two Berman Upper School students who made it to New York. The other was Rafi Sloan.

In the national round, competitors are asked to take a written test with 10 open-ended questions, as well as undergo a verbal round.

Tamar started studying for this year’s competition last summer. She took practice exams distributed by the Chidon competition, as well as practice questions she wrote herself.
She said Tanach became “a wonderful part of my life.” When she attended her first meeting about the Chidon competition, she immediately “fell in love with it.”

There were times when she felt nervous about her performance. “I just kind of tried to relax and tell myself that no matter what happens, it was still a really good experience,” she said.

But her teachers and peers were confident in her abilities, including as a leader. Rabbi Baruch Felberman said she is a “leader of the pack” when it’s time for group studying. The girls in her class “gravitate around her” because of her knowledge, he said. This year, Tamar began tutoring younger students for the Chidon as well.

“What’s so inspiring to both students and teachers is that, besides being a brilliant student, she also applies herself so regularly and consistently,” Felberman said.

Felberman added that the Berman community feels an added sense of joy because of how challenging the competition is. During the school’s Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony on May 4, a photo of Tamar winning the national competition was shown during a slide show.

“There is an appreciation of how much she worked for it,” Felberman said. “And when you see someone work very hard and then win, there’s a certain amount of joy that we have for her, and a pride that we have in the school, because it’s a tremendous accomplishment to make it to the national contest.”

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