Jewish religious scholarship in Israel may have a new ally: Wikipedia. The open-source encyclopedia's Hebrew-language version recently hit 100,000 articles, and religious academics are increasingly relying on the website as a teaching tool. But, when it comes to labored explications of centuries-old religious texts, is Wikipedia less reliable than traditional print encyclopedia?
The Jerusalem Post's Rebecca Anna Stoil, gets a little carried away, asking, "Is Wikipedia Good For The Jews?" But the question of whether it's good for religious scholarship is apparently an open one, meriting debate in the Knesset, Israel's legislature.
The meeting was initiated by MK Yulia Shamolov Berkovich (Kadima), who used the session as an opportunity to express concerns regarding Wikipedia's gradual replacement of print encyclopedias as tools for students. [...]
A number of academics also addressed the committee, arguing that Wikipedia could be used as a powerful tool for scholarship - and that Israeli academia could also increase its involvement in generating entries. Prof. Asher Cohen of Bar-Ilan University's Political Science Department, for example, assigned students the task of writing Wikipedia entries on key subjects, including Camp David, the Israel Prisons Service, the pre-statehood National Council and the Gidonim underground movement. As a result, said Cohen's former teaching assistant Ofer Eitan, the articles were reviewed not just by Wikipedia's volunteer editors, but by Cohen himself, and the result was more than 200 new Hebrew-language Wikipedia entries.
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