The issue of Jewish heritage studies stood at the heart of a heated debate recently, following the education minister's decision to cut down on the number of national service girls serving as teachers at schools.
A poll conducted for Ynet and the Gesher Institute revealed that 40% of the public believe that Jewish studies at schools were sufficient, while 29% percent stated the level of teaching was "catastrophic," and that students graduate from school without knowing anything about Judaism.
Eight percent of respondents said that the level of studies was "excellent," while 3% claimed that Jewish heritage studies were completely unnecessary.
The participants were also asked who they thought should teach Jewish studies at schools. Thirty-eight percent replied that the teacher could be either religious or secular, as long as he or she has been properly trained; only 5% said that national service volunteers should fulfill this role.
Meanwhile, 21% of respondents stated they would prefer a rabbi or a traditional teacher for this subject; 14% believe that the homeroom teacher should deliver these classes and 6% said that the most suitable person for the position was the history teacher.
Shoshi Becker, Gesher's director-general, said that the poll illustrated the urgent need for improving Jewish heritage studies in schools. "The efforts should concentrate on training teachers and creating deep identification with Jewish heritage," she stated.
The poll was conducted by the Mutagim Institute among 502 respondents, who are a statistical sample of the adult Hebrew-speaking Jewish population in Israel.