Scribe writes a Torah scroll (illustration)
Scribe writes a Torah scroll (illustration) Micah Bond/Flash 90

Just how many Jews in Israel own a Tanakh, the core text of Judaism comprised of the Torah, Prophets and Writings?

A survey conducted by the Herzog Academic College in Judea's Alon Shvut ahead of its "Opening the Tanakh" conference reveals surprising figures, which were reported Tuesday by Yedioth Aharonoth.

A full 95% of Israelis have a Tanakh in their home, according to the poll conducted for the college by the Yifat Gat Brand institute among 501 adult respondents.

Regarding how frequently they read from the Tanakh, 42% said they only do so at infrequent times, with a small portion saying the last time they studied it was ahead of the high school Tanakh matriculation exams.

Meanwhile, 13% said they read the Tanakh, and particular Psalms, in times of crisis; 15% said they never read Tanakh - among secular Jews that figure was at 30%.

Breaking the results down by region, the poll found that a full 71% of residents in the Jerusalem area frequently read Tanakh, while between 32-40% of the rest of the country reads the text frequently. Only 2% of Jerusalem area residents never read Tanakh, as opposed to 16% in the rest of Israel.

While slightly over half of all Israeli Jews may not frequently read the Tanakh, a full 68% expressed their reverence of it by defining it as a "holy book," while another 16% called it a book that fashions identity. Only 9% said they have no connection to the Tanakh.

Tellingly, the trend to disconnect from the Tanakh was more pronounced among academics, with 20% of them saying they never read the Tanakh and that it doesn't speak to them.

When asked which figure from the Tanakh most influenced them, 19% of Israeli Jews answered Moshe (Moses), followed by King David at 13% and the first patriarch Avraham (Abraham) at 11%.

The Herzog Academic College conference began on Monday, and is to continue for five days. It will include roughly 200 classes and lectures on the Tanakh, and is to be attended by 7,000 people from Israel and around the world.