A lecturer at Israel’s largest public college stirred controversy Wednesday after instructing proctors not to write a common religious phrase on a class board during an exam.
The instructions were made public after a student photographed and uploaded to the Internet an envelope apparently containing exams for a politics course at Sapir College near Sderot, on which “Please do not write BS”D on the board” was handwritten.
BS”D, an acronym for the Aramaic phrase meaning “with the help of heaven,” is traditionally written by practicing Jews at the top of every written document.
According to students present in the class, though, it appears the orders were not followed.
Speaking to Channel 2, unnamed students claimed the lecturer entered the classroom while the exam was underway and, noticing the religious phrase written on the board, demanded the identity of the culprit. He went on to request it be wiped off the board, according to the students.
When the proctor present in the class refused to do the deed, he allegedly wiped it off himself.
One disgruntled student claimed the order “causes greater harm to a wider population than the possible harm caused to the secular students who are discomforted with the word written on the board.”
“It is simply bizarre that a college lecturer would make such a demand, it’s absurd,” another student said.
A Sapir college representative said the allegations are currently being examined, telling Channel 2 that “the order given does not represent college policy, but rather the lecturer’s own initiative.”
The college is no stranger to political controversy. In December, a provocative piece of art emblazoned with the Arabic-slogan “Slaughter the Jews” was stolen from its display in an art exhibition on campus, amid controversy over the project that had been protested by students and a member of Knesset.
A student later confessed to the crime, claiming his actions were meant to “stop the public incitement against the Jewish people.”
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.