A group of religious Zionist rabbis have called for a boycott of this year's International Bible Quiz after discovering that one of the four finalists from Israel is a Messianic Jew who believes Jesus is the true Messiah.
"Messianics are missionaries who proselytize in very sophisticated ways," said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the rabbis calling to boycott the quiz. "It is forbidden to give them legitimacy by allowing them to take part in the quiz."
Other rabbis that have called to boycott the quiz include Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, Ya'acov Yosef, son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Tzvi Tau, head of Har Hamor Yeshiva.
The call to boycott the quiz came after Yad L'Achim, a anti-missionary organization, discovered that one of the finalists, Bat-El Levi, an 11th grader from a high school in Pisgat Ze'ev, was a Messianic Jew.
Levi won this year's national bible quiz for state schools and will be one of four finalists from Israel competing for the International Bible Quiz Championship on Independence Day.
The Education Ministry said in response to a query from The Jerusalem Post that the "Global Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth" was open only to Jewish pupils. Regarding Messianic Jews, the pupil in question was Jewish, and therefore, according to the ministry's legal department, was not disqualified from participating.
Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, an advocacy group that represents members of the Messianic community, said that "it is about time that they (the rabbis) stop having a monopoly over determining who is a Jew. The beauty of the Jewish world is the diversity."
Levi and her parents Ruti and Yitzhak declined to comment on the rabbis' call.