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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sadly, Basic Jewish Knowledge Missing in Israeli Education

During Chanukah, the IBA includes candle-lighting.  They (management, directors, editors) try to find an interesting mix of people to honor on Israeli Television.  The other night, I was horrified (not for the first time) to discover how easy it is to give a misleading impression. 

Just put a kippa (skull cap) on a conventionally dressed Israeli man, and you at least expect minimal Jewish knowledge.  As someone who has been unofficially involved with media for decades, I firmly believe in good preparation.

The other night, mid-Chanukah, the IBA English TV News decided to honor someone to light the Chanukah candles.  So, the someone and his teenage son stood straight and tall, looking comfortable with kippot on their heads, yes very photogenic were in the studio to light Chanukah candles.  The father took the lit shamash candle in his hand and said the first bracha, blessing as he lit the other candles:

Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom Asher Kiddeshonu Be-mitsvoysov Ve-tsivonu Lehadlik Neyr Shel khanuko.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
His son answered:
Then, so did the father, oops!  The person who says the blessing does not say amen.  Even worse, he then considered himself finished, totally oblivious to the fact that there is a second blessing that must be said, so the IBA announcer gave the guest the printed page, which apparently the someone had declined considering that he thought he knew what to say.  So the someone said:
Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-oso Nissim La-avoseynu Ba-yyomim Ho-heym Ba-zzman Ha-zze. Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
And, yes, both the man and his son then said "Amen."

Two problems:
  1. The man, though confident that he knew how to properly light Chanukah candles, didn't know.
  2. The director/editor of that newscast didn't know how to properly prepare their guest. 
Instead of explaining in a very professional way that:
"Every second has to be planned, so we want to go over the blessings in advance, so we won't go over, nor under.  Let's rehearse this..."
The IBA sadly allowed the man to embarrass himself.


Anonymous said...

at the chidon hatanach the other night i would say the audience was virtually all religious [besides for invited officials]. there is something deeply wrong here.

Batya said...

a, I trust you mean "dati le'umi." Unfortunately neither the chiloni nor the chareidi teach Tanach in a serious way. That's why they don't value the Land of Israel.

Anonymous said...

i dont know if you are right about the chareidim. i think they often teach tanach in a serious way, and do deeply value the land in israel. perhaps they assign it a different value than you do, but they deeply value the land of israel.

Batya said...

a, I know this for a fact. I don't "think" it.

Hadassa said...

The following are unfortunately true stories.
In a hassidic neighborhood in America my husband was asked, "Uri? What kind of a name is Uri?" The implication was that Uri is a modern (gasp!) Tziyoni name. Uri is the father of Betzalel, who constructed the vessels of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Someone wasn't listening when the Tora was read...
In a bookstore in Israel a hareidi man looked at the book of the prophet Haggai and asked, "Haggai? Isn't that a Tzioni name? What is this book doing here?"
These are not isolated incidents.

Batya said...

No surprise.
Chareidim concentrate on drash and Oral Law. They don't teach pshat or Tanach. It's like teaching how to repair an electric fridge to a community without electricity.