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Most Israelis own Bibles – but never open them, says study
By SAM SOKOL
31/12/2013
The Smith Research poll of 500 Israelis also revealed that a tenth of religious and ultra-Orthodox respondents have not opened a Bible in the past year.
 
While the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis have a Bible in their home, less than a third of them have opened it since graduating high school, according to a new study commissioned by the Bible Lands Museum.

The Smith Research poll of 500 Israelis also revealed that a tenth of religious and ultra-Orthodox respondents have not opened a Bible in the past year.

Ninety-three percent of Israelis overall have Bibles in their homes, including 87% of secular and nonobservant Jews.

Bibles bearing the IDF logo are given to every Israeli during compulsory military service, and the Bible is a core component of both religious and secular education.

While the report revealed that there is broad support for the teaching of Bible in schools, with 96% of respondents favoring the practice, 86% of religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews queried stated a preference for increasing its prominence in the curriculum, as opposed to the 63% of secular respondents who believe that the status quo is sufficient.

Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox respondents were split in their opinions of who wrote the Torah, with 44% answering God and 46% stating that it was the work of Moses. Over half of secular respondents credited the Pentateuch to a collection of various authors, consistent with academic biblical criticism.

Knowledge of the Bible was also a mixed bag, with nearly one in 10 religious Israelis not knowing that the biblical narrative placed the creation of man on the sixth day but with 81% across all sectors knowing 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 said 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.’”
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