At the inauguration of a Bible study conference on Tuesday, Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, described her family’s powerful connection to Bible study, which, in fact, embodies a Torah commandment incumbent upon rulers of Israel.
“The Tanach is my favorite book,” Sara said in her opening address to the conference. “It’s in my family, I feel connected to it, it’s a part of me and it’s a part of our nation.”
The Caucus to Encourage the Study of Tanach (“Tanach” is a Hebrew acronym for Torah, Prophets, and Writings, referring to the Hebrew Bible) was founded by Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who chose Sara, whose well-known family is steeped in Torah, as the guest of honor.
The First Lady of Israel is the daughter of Israeli poet and Bible educator Shmuel Ben-Artzi. She is also the sister of three Bible competition champions. Her younger son, Avner, won the prestigious National Bible Quiz six years ago. Two years ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu took a break from his duties to compete in the International Bible Quiz in Jerusalem.
Sara related that her husband sits and learns Bible with Avner on Shabbat, a practice she recommended to those gathered.
“When I see my children learning with their father, I fondly remember my father and know his legacy lives on – and is being passed from generation to generation,” Sara said. “I suggest to you to adopt this practice of studying Bible together, parents and children. This is our tradition and we have a great merit to learn it and to pass it on to future generations.
“I think this is a national mission for all our children to study the Bible,” Sara said. “This book is our story. The story of us all.”
The Netanyahu clan’s connection to the Bible is strongly reminiscent of the Biblical commandment for a king of Israel to write a personal Torah scroll. The Torah mandates that the bond between the ruler and the Bible be constant and unbreakable, similar to the manner embodied by the Netanyahu family.
And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear Hashem his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them, that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel. Deuteronomy 17:19-20
Rabbi Glick explained his reasons for establishing the caucus.
“The Bible is the cornerstone of our connection to this wonderful phenomenon of the return to Zion,” Rabbi Glick said. “I tell every tourist that comes to Israel: today, you can hold the Bible in your hands and see the words of the Bible that are coming true before our eyes – we have returned home. The Bible does not belong to any specific group. It belongs to the non-religious and the ultra-Orthodox, the left-wing and right-wing. It is the identity of us all.”
Donna Jollay, Israel365 consultant and pro-Israel Evangelical Christian activist, was on hand to witness the event.
“It was incredible,” Jollay told Breaking Israel News. “It was hard for me to hold in tears at times at the magnitude of what was happening and what I was getting to participate in.”
Jollay discussed the motivations that created the conference and similar events in Israel.
“It was born out of a concern that the love and study of Tanach is falling to the wayside here even in Israel and a sincere request was put out to try to develop ways of inspiring and connecting the next generation with Tanach,” Jollay said.
Also in attendance were Knesset members and senior members of the Education Ministry. Revital Swid, a non-religious Zionist Union MK, surprised those in attendance when she emphasized the importance of the gathering in the Knesset by saying, “Our leaders don’t always know the path, and we only have God to light our way.”