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Dec 30, 2013

Tanach in Israel isn't in such a bad position

Interesting survey results about some Torah-study topics..

According to a survey published yesterday in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper, 93% of Israeli households have a Tanach.

Unfortunately, about a third of that number, 28% to be precise, don't remember the last time they opened it. On the other hand, that stat also means that 72% do read or learn from their Tanach which is more encouraging.

Jokingly I would say that it could even be very likely that a large percentage of those who do not remember the last time they opened their Tanach are families of avreichim and yeshiva bochurim who famously learn very little Tanach, if any at all (beyond grade school). It would just be a joke, though the survey did reveal that 10% of the religious and haredi people surveyed did admit that they don't use their Tanach all that much.

96% surveyed say they support the study of Tanach in school.

In response to the question of which biblical character is their favorite:
 - Moshe pulled in 24%
 - King David ranked a distant second place with a 9% fan base
 - Avraham came in 3rd place with 6%
 - King Solomon was next at 5%
 - Yosef at 3%
 - Rachel Imeinu at 3%
(source: Kikar)

I probably would have picked Yosef as my favorite, had I been asked. Maybe somebody a bit more obscure, like Yaihu the Prohet who I always envision as a bit of a swashbuckler. Another possibility would have been Gideon, who I see as a salt of the earth type of hard-nosed guy...

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  1. Just to note that "salt of the Earth" is an expression that comes from the Gospel. I can't understand how it managed to spread so diffusely in Israel

  2. Not surprising that almost all households in Israel have at least one Tanach, I believe that they are presented to kids when the graduate school (at least in Modi'in that is the case) and given to soldiers in the army, so anyone who has a child who has graduated primary school or been in the army would have a Tanach, unless they lost it or refused to accept it when presented.

    Surprised that 96% support teaching Tanach in schools, I would have thought that the number would be MUCH lower

  3. Your wry joke about bachurim and avreichem being the ones that don't open a Tanach is mostly true for the Haredi sector. Go to any yeshivat hesder and you will find shiurim in Tanach and biblical geography. Har Etzion's Michlelet Herzog even offers genuine academic degrees in Tanach studies. One of my final exams for a teaching certificate from Shaalvim (in '89, mind you) including being able to work randomly from a Tanach. Many, many of my classmates went pretty much everywhere with a Tanach in their bag. I still do. And I just counted that my collection of portable size Tanachim somehow grew to 6 (not including translations, mikraot gedolot, daat mikra, etc.), including one from the army and one gift from a student. I think in nearly any 'religious zionist' home you'll find more than one well-worn Tanach.

    The older generation in Israel was proud of knowing Tanach as a national and historical heritage, even if they didn't relate to it religiously. I always enjoyed that random moment when someone I 'least suspected' displayed knowledge of Tanach (sometimes Oral Torah, too) in a casual encounter. Mi K'amcha Yisrael!

  4. Acc. to some Mefarshim, Gideon worshipped A"Z at the end of his life.

  5. 93% is pretty good, especially when you consider that only about 75% of the population is Jewish.


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