After years of slowly decreasing the study of Jewish history and Tanach in Israel’s public schools, Netanyahu’s coalition parties agreed to revamp the curriculum and put an emphasis on these subjects.
The study of the Tanach in Israeli schools has been waning over the years and was greatly reduced during the former Bennett-Lapid government. Referring to the new emphasis on Tanach, incoming Minister of Education Yoav Kish said on Sunday that “There will be major changes in the Israeli education system.” He made the comments during the handover ceremony with outgoing minister Yifat Shasha Biton.
Even in Israel, the Land of the Bible, when an emphasis is put on faith-based projects in the public sphere, politicians are quick to point out that all citizens will be respected regardless of religion. MK Kish was quick to add after highlighting the enhanced Tanach and Jewish history curriculum that “We shall educate Israeli children to [Jewish, biblical] values and accomplishments, alongside the acceptance of the different and the other.”
Shasha-Biton was quick to retort in her parting comments from the ministry that “During my year and a half tenure the only priority I had was the benefit of the children, their parents and the education system.” Apparently she can’t imagine that Jewish history or Bible would “benefit” our children or their parents.
Turning to Kish, she added, “I hope [he] will continue and take forward the steps we have initiated – if you do that, you will take the entire education system to the next level.”
One can only imagine where her “next level” suggests given the already deep and growing distance from biblical faith modern society continues to doggedly pursue. “Higher” education was never intended to mean getting beyond or some “next level” above the Bible.
All of this politicized rhetoric is part of the “culture wars” that have reached the shores of the Jewish nation. With the Religious Zionist Party now the third-largest party in Israel’s Knesset many new battles over faith verses freedom and civil rights verses religious choice are sure to ignite.
In the past Netanyahu has been a master at balancing these forces. But the world is changing so rapidly that the Gospel of the Status Quo that helped Israel protect its Jewish and Democratic spirit for decades is facing new pressures from both sides – secular and religious.
It took five elections for Netanyahu to be reelected. In the end, after all the screaming and nasty infighting, the right wing together Bible believing Religious Zionists were able to set up a majority coalition in the Jewish and Democratic State of Israel.
There is no doubt in my mind that all of this has happened with some serious help from the prayers of the saints.
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