Almost a week has passed since Avner Netanyahu came in third in the International Bible Contest, and at the prime minister's house, his parents are still excited. His mother, Sara Netanyahu, spoke with Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Sunday, and told him that her son's achievement brought much pride to her and her husband, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rabbi Eliyahu said Netanyahu thanked him for the open letter, published on Ynet, in which he praised her for her parenting skills, which led to her son's successful participation in the quiz.
She told the rabbi that investing in the children's education paid off, and that its results were evident, but added that in this case, credit also goes to her father, 96-year-old Shmuel Ben Artzi and her brother, Hagai, who encouraged Avner and helped him study for the competition.
Netanyahu added that the fact that third place was won by a 15-year-old secular boy who goes to high school near the university in Jerusalem, and whose hobbies are sports and theater, proves that the Bible also appeals to non-religious youth, who do not study in yeshivot or seminaries.
She added this has also increased awareness for bible studies among the secular youth.
"I am very moved and have Avner to thank for this," she said, "We received praise and congratulations everywhere – from the president, and up to phone calls from Israel and abroad."
After speaking with the proud mother, the rabbi told Ynet, "This child shows who his mother really is, the woman who is constantly the subject of media attacks from foreign motives. It hurts our hearts. After the letter I published in her favor, I received many responses, all saying, 'You took the words right out of our mouths.' They could identify with what I wrote and said the article expresses exactly how they feel."
Seventeen-year-old Or Asuel of Kfar Saba won first place in the International Bible Contest, beating 15 other contestants who made it to the final, which was held in Jerusalem. Or's father, Shimon, was the first runner up in the contest 27 years ago.
Elad Nahshon of Rehovot came in second place, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Avner was named second runner up.