Films ridiculing Judaism on Israeli Education Ministry’s approved list

The ministry’s website has offensive satirical clips on Judaism and missionary-sponsored content for teachers of Scriptures in the state-run secular schools

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Part of the learning program that the Ministry of Education recommends to teachers of secular junior high school students includes material that pokes fun at Judaism and clips produced by a Christian missionary group.

Short films from an Israeli TV show called “The Jews are Coming” (Hayehudim Ba’im) can be found on the ministry’s website for Tanach (Scriptures) teachers, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday.

The educational value of the Israeli show is at best questionable as it is a satirical, Monty Python-like program, but it has also created a furor in the country over recent weeks due to content that spills into being contemptuous of Judaism in the eyes of traditional Jews.

Religious members of Knesset are not only calling for the clips’ removal from the website, but also for the whole program to be dropped from state-run TV.

Going further, Moshe Arbel of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party wrote a letter last week to the attorney general asking him to investigate the show for “hurting the feelings of millions in Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike, religious as well as secular.”

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He was outraged, he said, at hearing that in some clips, “the actors mentioned the ineffable name of God [which is forbidden by Jewish law to say aloud] and mocked it in various ways.”

It is considered a criminal act in Israel to insult religion and peoples’ religious feelings.

Also included as approved content, side-by-side with Torah lectures, are clips from a Jewish messianic group.

Although the specific audio-visual material the Education Ministry is promoting is not Christian in nature, anti-missionary groups have protested to the ministry that it is too easy for children to then be exposed to the group’s online missionary content. They have demanded its removal.

The Ministry of Education responded in a statement that the missionary group’s clips and two of the satirical videos “are being examined by the pedagogical secretariat.”

The ministry maintained that the other TV clips had been checked before being uploaded to the site. The audio-visual content, it said, was all part of the ministry’s efforts over recent years “to provide schools with innovative and experiential teaching material, including videos from diverse sources.”