For the Sake of Zion: A New Curriculum on Israel Education.

One of the big surprises in Israel education curricula on a middle or high school level in the diaspora is that they are almost non-existent. Very few so-called “Zionist” day schools teach Israel studies as a separate subject.   Most of these institutions feel it is enough to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day and encourage their students to attend a gap year program in Israel. The result of this misguided policy is that graduates of twelve years of Jewish day school arrive on college campuses with little or no literacy on modern Zionism and its achievements or challenges. Deputy Minister Michael Oren observed that what we do on college campuses regarding Israel advocacy is too late. According to Oren, the students need to be educated and inspired whilst still in junior high school.

Tuvia Book zionism cover 2017
“For the Sake of Zion, A Curriculum of Israel Studies,” (c) Tuvia Book, 2017

The majority of literature on this topic indicates that the view of Israel education until the end of twentieth century was very two-dimensional and focused almost exclusively on “survivalism and pride,” alternating with periods of “paternalism.” This is a fundamentally flawed system. If Israel education is defined solely through crises it is “reactive” and of course exceedingly difficult to educate succeeding generations about the complex evolving realities of Israel. It is important to acknowledge that with all of Israel’s incredible successes in many fields since its creation, there are issues that Israel is grappling with as it continues to stride into the 21st century. The problems that the Jewish State faces include topics as far ranging as: security, religion, society, environment, education and how to harmoniously co-exist with a minority population.

The challenge of Israel education in the twenty-first century is to move beyond the old metaphors of the “mythical/romantic Israel,” or the “poor immigrant cousin.” The need to re-engage with Israel education in new ways is apparent. As previously noted, most Jewish day school students in the diaspora lack a basic knowledge of the subject and that without this core knowledge foundation; all of the fancy theories of education and advocacy are worthless. This leads me to the conclusion that it is imperative for each Jewish day school to develop for itself a clear statement of its commitment to Israel, a comprehensive ideology that places today’s Israel firmly in the centre of the institutional core and curriculum, and most importantly act on its mission statement.

To that end I have written an Israel education curriculum on Zionist literacy. Koren Press recently published this comprehensive curriculum, titled, “For the Sake of Zion, A Curriculum of Israel Studies” whose target audiences are middle and high school students (5th Edition: 2017).  Since its initial publication thousands of copies of the curriculum book have been sold to schools, Federations, Jewish institutions and youth movements in Australia, South Africa, Europe, Canada and the USA. The materials in the curriculum are meant to assist Jewish students to better understand their connection to Israel, thereby helping them when they attend college to confidently identify with and, if necessary, defend Israel against critics. Hadassah magazine reviewed the curriculum and came to the conclusion that, “This excellent resource guide is long overdue…it provides powerful intellectual and historic background…worksheets, topics for discussion, an excellent chronology and bibliography coupled with a compelling text makes ‘For the Sake of Zion’ an invaluable teaching tool.”

Other reviews of the curriculum from leading luminaries in the Jewish world are found below:

“This book is a wonderful road map to one of the great journeys of human history – the return of the Jewish people to Israel. Dr. Tuvia Book combines the head of a knowledgeable expert with the heart of a passionate educator, to produce a volume rich in facts, ideas, and creative pedagogy. This guide will be an invaluable resource for those who really care about bringing Israel into the hearts and souls of our young and not so young. This book in the hands of educators who care will fill a great void.”
– Professor Barry Chazan, Hebrew University, Birthright Israel

 

“Tuvia Book has written a fascinating and informative survey of Zionism from its early days to the present. This book is an important addition to the existing educational material.”

– Sir Martin Gilbert, Oxford University

 

“It is a splendid work, enlightening, full of important information, well-organised and beautifully produced. I need hardly say how valuable a contribution it is, given the sad state of disinformation and demonisation of Israel in so many circles today. I congratulate you on it and hope it is widely read and reflected on.”

– Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

 

“Kol Hakavod and congratulations on this important and much needed book!”

– Natan Sharansky

 

“Bravo! Putting his extensive knowledge and experience to great use, Tuvia Book has produced an essential guide for teachers and students, offering pithy, practical, exciting, illuminating and substantive units on Zionist history, Zionist ideology, and the State of Israel. This helpful guide will help bring Zionist education and Israel studies into the twenty-first century.”

– Professor Gil Troy, McGill University

 

“’For the Sake of Zion’ is extremely informative. The book inspires students to delve deeper into vital historical subjects for the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise. This is indeed an important project.”

– Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laurette

Ordering information for “For the Sake of Zion, A Curicullum of Israel Studies: https://www.korenpub.com/toby_en_usd/toby/new-releases-toby/for-the-sake-of-zion.html

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He is the author (and illustrator) of the internationally acclaimed Zionism curriculum; “For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Education” (fifth edition, 2017, Koren) and is at present working on his next book, a history of the Jewish people. Tuvia has a doctorate in Israel education. His dissertation title is: “Through the Soldiers’ Eyes: Exploring the Influence of a Birthright Mifgash on the Israeli Soldier Participants.”
Comments