(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A survey of Israeli Jews on their affinity for the Bible, ahead of the launch on Sunday of the 24th annual Tanach Conference at the Herzog Academic College in Alon Shvut, found that 95 percent have a copy at home.
The Tanach (Bible) Conference takes place over five days, plus an additional day of biblical-themed tours of Israel and Judea and Samaria, during which 200 lectures on Bible study will be delivered; 7,000 people have registered so far to participate in the event.
According to the poll, conducted at the end of June on a sample of 501 people, although 95% of Jewish Israelis have a Bible at home, 6% of those are not sure where it is.
Broken down into societal sectors, 91% of those defining themselves as religiously traditional have a Bible at home as do 82.5% of those calling themselves secular, as do 100% of the haredi and national-religious people.
Respondents also were asked about what the Bible means to them; some 68% said it was “the Holy Book;” 16% said it was a book that had formed Jewish identity; and 3.4% said it was simply the book they received when finishing basic training in the IDF.
Jewish soldiers in the IDF generally receive a copy of the Bible during their swearing-in ceremony afterhaving completed basic training.
Another 3.8% of those responding said it was, “a book like any other within the realm of Jewish literature” and 9% said they had “no connection to the Bible, which is an ancient book with no relevance to my life today.”
Almost 54% of those describing themselves as secular referred to the Bible as the Holy Book, as did 84.6% of those who are religiously traditional, a higher proportion than both national and religious respondents.
Some 79% of national religious and 81% of haredim said the Bible is the Holy Book, while 21% of the national religious and 19% of the haredi described it as forming their Jewish identity.
Forty-two percent of respondents said they study the Bible frequently or at least once a week, while 30% said very infrequently and even that they last read it for their high school Bible-studies course.
Another 13 percent said they only read the Bible when they read from the Book of Psalms during some kind of crisis – a Jewish practice designed to invoke divine compassion – while 15% said they never read the Bible.
Of those who read the Book of Psalms during times of crisis were, 11.4% were secular.
Asked which biblical character had most influenced them, 78% of respondents answered with one such figure. Of those who provided an example, 19% said Moses; 13% answered King David; Abraham received 11% of the vote; King Solomon 8%; Rachel 5%; Sarah 3%; Joshua 3%; and Ruth 1%.
Of those surveyed, 22% said none of the biblical characters influenced their lives.