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The Public Committee for Bible Education will hold its first meeting on Wednesday at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum, marking the official launching of a new initiative that seeks to give the study of the Bible a more central focus in the educational system.
"The beauty of the Bible is reflected in the values and moral dilemmas it raises," said Education Minister Yuli Tamir, one of the committee's 39 members. "I believe that dealing with moral issues can help develop students' moral judgment."
Bible studies are currently an integral and mandatory part of the curriculum in the entire state educational system from Grades 1-12, including some field trips.
However, ministry officials have noted a growing gap between schoolchildren and "the Bible's world and language," and "the growing polarization between the religious and secular in Israeli society." The committee, which operates within the Education Ministry, comes in response to this concern.
One of the committee's first recommendations has been to institute a discussion of Bible stories and subjects in the morning roll-call in each school. The recommendation, which would take effect in the upcoming school year and can be implemented at the discretion of a school's principal, applies to all schools in the state and state religious school systems.
The enhanced studies program planned by the committee includes trips around the country in the footsteps of Bible stories, such as the Ela Valley while learning the story of Samson, or visiting Mount Gilboa to see where King Saul fought the Philistines. Additional recommendations include musical, literary and artistic competitions on Biblical themes, after-school events, and a Bible studies corner in each elementary school.
The committee is headed by former Supreme Court justice Mishael Cheshin, and its membership includes such public figures as former president of Israel and education minister Yitzhak Navon, Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel, Education Ministry director-general Shmuel Abuav, author Haim Be'er, Jewish Agency Education Department head Alan Hoffman, IDF Chief Education Officer Brig.-Gen. Ilan Harari, Bible scholar and Israel Prize recipient Prof. Sarah Yafet, Yeshivat Har Etzion head Rabbi Yehuda Amital, and Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev.