Thursday, April 16, 2009

Israel's students deficient in basic knowledge of Christianity?

Catholic News Service has a disturbing report on the state of education about Christianity in Jewish schools in Israel (April 16, 2009):
"The answer is very simply no. Israeli students do not learn about Christianity in school," said Rossing, director of the independent Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations.

"All indications are that there is a very widespread ignorance with regard to Catholicism in general and in particular in regard to the revolutionary changes which have taken place in the Catholic Church regarding Judaism and the Jewish people," said Rossing, who is an Orthodox Jew.

Rossing is considered an expert in education about Christianity. His center offers workshops and seminars about Christianity and interreligious studies for groups ranging from soldiers and teachers to the average Israeli who wants to learn more.

A study conducted by Rossing's Center found that "young Israeli Jews tend to be less tolerant of Christians than people over 30 are," due to their lack of exposure to Christians and Christianity:
"People in the 18- to 20-year-old category are solely the product of the educational system and don't have contact with Christianity, while (older people) have had other influences and opportunities for encounters," said Rossing. "If we were to do a similar survey (in regard to Jews) in Germany or France in the general population, I suspect the findings wouldn't be much different."

As far as education about Christianity goes, 68 percent of non-Orthodox Jewish respondents said that Christianity should be taught in schools and 52 percent said the New Testament should be studied. However, 73 percent of Orthodox Jewish respondents and 90 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jewish respondents opposed the teaching of Christianity in schools in any form.

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