CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Education Ministry plans to ban booklets that simplify original Hebrew texts to help elementary and junior high school students study the Bible.
The booklets' publishers say biblical Hebrew is like a foreign language to the average Israeli child so the simplified text helps them understand the Bible.
The Education Ministry argues that children will choose the simpler versions instead of reading the original text, affecting their competency in the Hebrew language, which is based on the Bible.
"The Bible is the Hebrew language's dictionary. It's the foundation of everything," said linguist Zvia Valdan. "If you read it without the original expressions and rhythms, it will lose its impact and power."
The booklets, priced at 20 shekels (about $5.50) apiece, feature the original Hebrew text on one side of the page and the simplified version on the other side.
Professor Yaira Amit, who teaches Bible, called the booklets "a disaster."
"It's a purely marketing initiative intended for the below-average [student]," she said.
"This is a colossal failure of our education system that defies description," Amit said.
"How come children used to be able to read the Bible? How come they used to be able to learn sections by heart?" she asked.
"It was hard for them then too, but they dealt with it because they were told it was important," she said.
Amit attributes the trend to the shallowness produced by today's instant culture.
"We give precedence to shallowness and shortcuts in many areas of modern life," she said.
Amit would like to see Israeli students spend more hours studying and memorizing the Bible.