web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Religious Ignorance Threatens Israel’s Existence


I had a long conversation with my children recently and explained to them that nearly 1000 Jews had been murdered in the past decade because Israeli children had never been taught to read the siddur (Jewish prayer book).

Should that sound to you bizarre – if not medieval and superstitious — then let me explain to you what I mean, the same way that I explained it to my children.

As background, let me point out that my three children attend a secondary state junior high/high school (two segments within same school) in Haifa, meaning an ordinary secular Israeli school with state curriculum. Why that is (and whether, in retrospect, it was a poor decision on the part of my wife myself) is a complex question, and let us not go into the matter.

In addition, this is a high school serving a yuppie middle class secular neighborhood in Haifa where almost everyone reads Ha’aretz and votes for Meretz or Labor.

Over the years I have run up against many cases of rabid anti-Orthodox bigotry in the school and in the neighborhood, in addition to astonishing ignorance.

The Sephardic synagogue in the neighborhood has seen anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on it repeatedly, no doubt by local guttersnipes.

When my son’s kindergarten teacher needed a father to say the blessing on Chanukah candles, she picked me because I was the only dad with a yarmulka or who knew the blessings.

When my daughter’s teacher proposed spending a few classes in which the kids could be introduced to the basics of the prayer book, parents of many children were outraged, and some kept their children home to prevent them from being contaminated. Others screamed at the principal in protest against this “religious coercion.”

Not surprisingly, most children in the school cannot complete the sentence that begins “Shma Yisrael” nor explain what the Amida is. The reactions of parents were similar when a mini-course on basic concepts from the Mishnah was proposed. When the school took the kids to a one-day seminar at a religious institute, fully three-quarters of the kids stayed home.

Earlier this month, at the start of the new school year, my youngest son came home in dismay. His Bible teacher had introduced herself as a secularist who regards the Bible as nothing but quaint fables, and she told the children that there is nothing in the Bible that is factually true.

But my daughter came home even more flustered. Her 11th grade class schedule includes a Bible course, but at the first class meeting more than half of the students screamed in outrage that there is no reason whatsoever for them to be forced to have to learn this; that it is all religious coercion; and why should they learn the Bible anyway instead of the Koran?

So let me explain to you what I explained to my children.

Nearly 1000 Jews have been murdered and Israel’s very survival is in serious question now because of the Oslo Left. Israel’s Left is a cult whose main motivation is self-annihilation and Jewish anti-Semitism. These are self-hating Jews who wish their own country and their own people harm.

An integral part of Israeli Leftism has always been not only anti-Orthodox bigotry but a ferocious animosity to everything that is Judaism or Jewish tradition. The hostility to religion in Israel is a quintessential part and parcel of the collapse of the national will to survive.

There is no religious coercion in Israel. It is a myth. Virtually no one in Israel ever observes any religious ritual against his or her will. True, cinemas are closed in some places on Shabbat, but that does not affect anyone with a VCR. True, buses do not run in some places on Shabbat, but that affects no one with a car or change for a sherut (taxi).

On the other hand, there is a venomous hatred of religion and the religious by the very same parts of Israeli society that have imposed Oslo on the country and led the nation to the brink of destruction. The elimination of nearly every mention of Judaism and Jewish tradition from the state school curriculum is one manifestation of this leftist secularist self-hatred.

Those children who object to being forced to learn the Bible are in fact seeking to detach themselves from all Jewishness (and no doubt simply reiterating the nonsense they hear at home).

The reason why it is important to study the Bible — even for Israeli total secularists — is that the Bible is their national and historic and cultural heritage. They are meaningless human beings without their own heritage.

The Bible is their heritage — even if they never practice any form of ritual — not the Koran.

Knowing the Bible is important for secular children for the same reason that knowing history is. Knowing Bible and history could have prevented Oslo.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Religious Ignorance Threatens Israel’s Existence”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Steven Plaut
Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

Statue of King David

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Why is “Palestine” worthier of “statehood recognition” than ISIS, another terrorist gang seeking it?

The Palestinian terrorists could undergo career reorientation and take to cod fishing.

Israel’s imperious court is comprised of judges who do not live in African-filled neighborhoods.

“Jewish Voices for Peace,” a Hamas lobby created by Jewish anti-Semites.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/religious-ignorance-threatens-israels-existence/2002/10/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: