Jewish History

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 159–178 | Cite as

Teaching the Bible as a common culture

  • Tali Tadmor Shimony


This essay discusses the teaching of Bible in the Israeli public school as reflected in the encounter between new immigrants and long-time Israelis during the two first decades of the state. The Israeli secular curriculum defines the study of the Bible as a prime agent of Zionist acculturation. This definition, however, was challenged by the arrival of new immigrants, pupils and teachers alike, who did not view the Bible – as it was taught in secular schools – as primarily a means of reinforcing the link between Jews and their land. For them, this conception had no resonance in the traditional cultures in which they had been reared, which perceived and taught the Bible as an important component in defining Jewish religious identity. The result was cultural interaction, which expressed itself in various ways. Some immigrants assimilated the prevalent secular view of the Bible, while others expressed reservation and continued to voice criticism. At the same time, there were non-immigrant teachers who adopted immigrant usages, for instance, men covering their heads during Bible lessons. But there was also interaction between teachers of varying background, and here the result was an amalgam, even a fruitful pluralism of approaches.


Israeli Society Jewish Education Common Culture Jewish Tradition Bible Study 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Achva CollegeLevahimIsrael

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