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The Saga of the Bible Project 929


Recently a Bible study project was launched in Israel that was suppose to provide a platform for Israelis from all different backgrounds to study the Bible together. 929, named after the number of chapters in the Tanakh, seemed to be doing exactly what it was doing until a number of things happened. The first cracks occurred when Rabbi Shlomo Aviner came out and strongly criticized (Hebrew) the endeavor. Soon afterwards an article by Ari Elon, one of the participants in 929, was removed from the site after he and one of the coordinators of the project, Rabbi Benny Lau, had a disagreement about one of Elon’s posts and Rabbi Lau’s reaction to a conversation that they had in which he felt that Elon was disrespectful. In the pre-social media age I imagine that very little of this would have been made public, but now it’s all for everyone to read. Here is Elon’s post (Hebrew) and Lau’s response (Hebrew). As of now there is now going to be a “parallel” site for individuals who do not want to be exposed to “heretical” interpretations. Tomer Persico’s comments are a helpful guide to the whole episode.

All I can say that it is disturbing when rabbis and educators don’t trust people to make their own decisions about what they should and shouldn’t read. It’s nice to see that some (Hebrew) rabbis agree with this attitude.

If any of you are wondering, the five-year project is expected to cost (Hebrew) 47 million NIS (approximately $12 million), of which 23 million NIS (approximately $5.8 million) is coming from the Ministry of Education.

Update:  Two updates from this morning. First, I remembered that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has been promoting a Perek Yomi, Chapter a Day, of Tanakh for a number of years. The project’s web site includes resources for study. The second update is that the guest on this past Friday’s episode of Sara Beck’s wonderful program Oneg Shabbat was Zvika (Biko) Arran, the director of Project 929. The two spoke about the project and some of the controversy around it. You can listen to the episode below. (Hebrew)


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