‘Jewish heritage, tradition essential to our culture'

Does being religious enhance literary skills?

By JONAH MANDEL
April 7, 2010 06:58
2 minute read.
Shmuel Yosef Agnon.

agnon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Does being religious enhance literary skills?

The Education Ministry on Tuesday released the breakdown of the latest results of matriculation exams (bagrut) in literature, for the school year 2007/2008, and seven of the 10 high schools with the best averages, including the top five, were religious institutions.

Bar-Ilan University Prof. Ephraim Hazan, who also served as a supervisor over literature studies in the religious education system, was cited by Israel Radio on Tuesday as explaining that “the religious youth is more connected to the [Jewish] sources and the Hebrew language of the sources, while the secular youth is unfortunately disconnecting from it, in certain aspects.”

Ariela Zim agrees with Hazan’s thesis, but says that there is more to it. She would know, as it was her pupils in the Neveh Shmuel yeshiva high school, located in Efrat, who had the highest average score in the 2008 literature exams.

“When our students read Agnon, it really comes to life for them,” the jubilant teacher told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the Nobel laureate whose corpus is rich with references and allusions to the Jewish tradition and sources. “But you need to utilize the preliminary connection, to inspire the students, to impassion them.

“An important aspect is the method of teaching, which in our case, is a round table with all the implications – a group of us sitting together, debating, discussing, listening to one another – much like traditional Jewish scholarship,” Zim continued, contrasting that method to one in which a single authority puts forth a thesis.


“Our approach promotes the capacity to analyze and scrutinize texts, but more importantly, genuinely connects the students to the material. The students learn to ask questions, and to love the subject matter. It becomes part of their soul.”

Zim also noted that since the students’ abilities are ultimately evaluated by a written test, she takes care to develop oral and written expression skills.

When asked by the Post if her pedagogic success could not be attributed primarily to good teaching methods in general, Zim had no doubts as to the central role Jewish heritage has in contemporary Israeli culture.

“Any attempt to sever oneself from the Jewish heritage and tradition, while suggesting an alternative secular culture or identity, is doomed to fail,” she said. “Without tradition constituting a significant facet [in our culture], we won’t be able to make achievements in fields considered secular, and not only literature.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery

By JPOST.COM STAFF