Israel's new gov't 'recognizes the importance of Bible study'

Thursday, March 14, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

One of the central themes of Israel's recent election was "sharing the burden," a reference to the long-standing exemption from military service of ultra-Orthodox Jews, as well as that sector's failure to join the workforce in any meaningful numbers.

Two parties championing "shared burden" platform - Jewish Home and Yesh Atid - did extremely well in the election, signaling that Israelis wanted a change.

While Jewish Home and Yesh Atid were branded as "anti-religious" by the ultra-Orthodox, both parties have since proved that they are very much in favor of both national responsibility for all citizens and universal Bible study.

The new coalition deal that brought Jewish Home and Yesh Atid into Netanyahu's government reads: "The State of Israel recognizes the importance and centrality of Torah (Bible) study as a central value of the Jewish people and the State of Israel."

To that end, Jewish Home and Yesh Atid have agreed that ultra-Orthodox Jews who wish to study Torah can defer military service for three years in order to do so, but must then also do their part for the state's security.

Both parties also want more comprehensive Bible study in Israeli schools, and with Yesh Atid taking the Ministry of Education, they will be able to achieve that.

What other nation today has as a central pillar of its ruling government the importance of studying the Bible?

Yesh Atid also recently initiated the first regular Bible study in Israel's Knesset (parliament), and dozens of parliamentarians are attending every week.

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