Even if they do not routinely open them, a recent poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Israelis own a bible and view bible education as an important part of the school curriculum. According to the Smith Research poll, commissioned by the Bible Lands Museum, 93% of respondents keep bibles in their homes, including 87% of secular and non-observant Jews. Since the IDF distributes bibles to its soldiers during their mandatory service, this is not surprising, but the importance attached to the bible as a national heritage is encouraging.
The poll reached 500 respondents across the religious spectrum of Israel. Questions included who wrote the Bible, on what day humanity was created, who the foremothers were and whether respondents favored Bible study in school. Results were broken down by religious observance.
86% of religiously observant respondents favored increasing the amount of bible study included in the mandatory core curriculum, while 63% of secular respondents preferred to maintain the status quo. Bible studies are a mandatory part of the Israeli education system, including units in the matriculation exams.
The religious and secular approach to the Bible differs, with religious respondents identifying God or Moses as the Torah’s author, while secular respondents answered with more of a mixed bag: over half identified with the academic approach to biblical authorship.
Over 90% of religious Jews knew man was created on the sixth day of creation, while 81% of respondents overall were able to identify Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah as the four matriarchs.
“The survey results show a gap between the importance that we attach to the Bible as a nation and as individuals, and our familiarity with the content,” Bible Lands Museum director Amanda Weiss told The Jerusalem Post in response to the survey results.
“Beyond the study of Bible in schools, upon which there is wide agreement, it is important to create genuine interest and curiosity from a young age in the ‘book of books.’”