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Bible study goes 2.0

With aid of hip-hop and the internet, an Israeli company tries to make the Bible fun again.

Ultra-orthodox Jew
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish is asleep at the Nabi Samuel site during the the annual celebration of the profit Samuel, on May 12, 2010 in the West Bank. Samuel was a leader of ancient Israel according to the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Photo caption: An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish is asleep at the Nabi Samuel site during the the annual celebration of the profit Samuel, on May 12, 2010 in the West Bank. Samuel was a leader of ancient Israel according to the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV, Israel — Was Queen Jezebel the ultimate shiksa?

For the uninitiated, a shiksa is a non-Jewish woman in pursuit of a Jewish man, or so goes one interpretation. Queen Jezebel has been called the "bad girl of the Bible."

"Much was written about her beauty. What was she really like? Watch the following video clip and reveal the blonde,” reads a footnote of the Bible according to MikraNet, an online Bible where readers can contribute their own interpretation of Biblical text.

MikraNet — "mikra" meaning "Bible" in Hebrew — was developed by the Israeli Center for Educational Technology (CET) and, say its founders, is the most sophisticated, updated, rich tool for teaching the Bible today.

This is more than just reading about the beautiful and assertive Queen Jezebel, wife of Ahab, who was murdered by defenestration, or, being hurled out a window. MikraNet tries to engage readers and students in modern world commentary. The once-boring act of reading just verses becomes lively debate.

“She is a woman of valor," one reader said in a post linked to the same verse.

Bible studies in Israel are mandatory for obtaining a high-school diploma. However, it can be a grueling experience that mixes old tales and religious aura. Normally, it is not the highlight of an Israeli secular teen's school years. Teaching the Bible in an Israeli classroom entailed memorizing complicated verses and then reciting them in front of a room of classmates.

 

Is the internet the way of the future when it comes to Bible studies? Join the conversation in the comment section below.

But times have changed. In the spirit of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, anyone can contribute to MikraNet. A drawing, comic-strip or short personal video that comments on the subject may be uploaded and free debate may follow. Why memorize inextricable sentences when a student can watch Matt Barr, a Jewish rapper who interprets the holy text, upload fresh observations to a Facebook page, add personal comment and share it with some classmates?

“Instead of just reading and discussing the story about Abraham's travels, we look at his itinerary with the online map and follow each of Abraham's rests with hyperlinked information, videos and arts,” said Noya Sagiv, part of CET's development team and a high school teacher in the coastal city of Jaffa.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/education/100506/bible-online-studies-israel