Overhaul in Israel's Bible education
Education Ministry reaches conclusion Israeli high school students uninterested, unfamiliar with basics of Bible. New study program aims to correct current situation, introduce more book of Genesis contents
Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad • Ynet
If one were to ask a new Israeli high school graduate to name the Ten Commandments, specify the Three Pilgrimage Festivals or relate the creation story, one would be met with a deafening silence more often than not.
For years, the study material for the Bible matriculation exam has not included Bible basics such as the Shema Yisrael prayer, Tefilin, and other fundamental social commandments.
Having conducted a thorough examination, the Education Ministry has decided to revolutionize next year's Bible study program with the aim of restoring Bible education to its original status.
"Many students today complete their matriculation exams without knowing the book of Genesis, Abraham and the Hebrew Prophets," Drora Levy, national Bible supervisor in the Education Ministry admitted. "The book of Genesis is the Bible's genetic code, our foundation as a people. Without it we have no roots, no promise," she added.
The new Bible study program for state high schools will require teachers to follow the chronological order of events in their classes, contrary to the current custom. In addition, schools will not be given a choice of subjects but will be required to teach all stipulated contents. "The students will learn the Bible in the appropriate manner," Levy said.
The new program will also make it mandatory for students of the 7th-12th grades to use the Bible text and Jewish commentaries alone and no longer be aided by various booklets. It was revealed that many students have never opened an actual Bible during their studies as there were aid books offering short summaries in easy language at hand.
Making Bible approachable
Education Ministry officials believe that the overhaul will make the subject of Bible more approachable for pupils. Bible is currently considered one of the least popular subjects with young students. Officials are also confident that the change will be reflected in a rise of the national average matriculation exam score which currently stands at 75.
"No doubt there was a need for change in the Bible study program, which veered away from the actual folktales," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Tuesday. "The new program is one step in many which we are planning for the improvement of schools' Bible teaching."
The Ministry's next step will be to conduct a reform in elementary schools' Bible classes.