Thursday, 29 April 2010

Israel Matzav: The Bible appeals to secular youth too

The Bible appeals to secular youth too

This is slightly off the original fare, so bear with me. I've been thinking of raising this topic for the last week, but I needed to confirm one last fact which fell into place when I saw the article I am about to quote.

The Prime Minister's 15-year old son Avner placed third in the International Bible Contest held on Independence Day. I want you to appreciate what an achievement that was. You see, unlike every other kid who has participated in the contest for as long as I can remember, Avner Netanyahu is not religious.

Almost a week has passed since Avner Netanyahu came in third in the International Bible Contest, and at the prime minister's house, his parents are still excited. His mother, Sara Netanyahu, spoke with Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Sunday, and told him that her son's achievement brought much pride to her and her husband, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rabbi Eliyahu said Netanyahu thanked him for the open letter, published on Ynet, in which he praised her for her parenting skills, which led to her son's successful participation in the quiz.

She told the rabbi that investing in the children's education paid off, and that its results were evident, but added that in this case, credit also goes to her father, 96-year-old Shmuel Ben Artzi and her brother, Hagai, who encouraged Avner and helped him study for the competition.

Netanyahu added that the fact that third place was won by a 15-year-old secular boy who goes to high school near the university in Jerusalem, and whose hobbies are sports and theater, proves that the Bible also appeals to non-religious youth, who do not study in yeshivot or seminaries.

She added this has also increased awareness for bible studies among the secular youth.

Read the whole thing. I am actually quite impressed with Avner Netanyahu, and especially with his mother, who unfortunately has been abused by Israel's Leftist media. I suppose it would be too much to expect the media to apologize to Mrs. Netanyahu.

I heard in a Torah class by Rabbi Asher Weiss, who heard from Rabbi Yehuda Cooperman, who heard from Rabbi Yakaov Herzog, that Rabbi Herzog asked Ben Gurion why he allowed religious education in Israel at all, since Ben Gurion and most of the State's founders were rabidly secular. Ben Gurion said, "They won't need it for more than another generation anyway. Their children won't be interested in this kind of schooling. So I decided to make them happy for now." Sixty years later, "this kind of schooling" - religious education - is severely lacking in many quarters in Israel, and it's a lack that we all feel.

As I have mentioned several times, I recently finished reading Daniel Gordis' Saving Israel. Gordis writes that Ben Gurion's removal of Jewish content from the secular education system in Israel was a serious mistake. As a result, many kids today have no idea why we are here and why we belong here. They're what could be called Hebrew-speaking goyim (non-Jews).

I hope that Avner Netanyahu - who is so visible because he is the Prime Minister's son - starts a trend among secular Israelis to learn Tanach (the Bible) and share in our heritage. It's their heritage too.

Israel Matzav: The Bible appeals to secular youth too

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