Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist
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2014: The Year of the IDF Soldier

Looking back at a year when Israel’s defenders put their lives on the line, and paid dearly

Last year was the year of the soldier. This past summer during “Operation Protective Edge” our country found itself in the midst of yet another “War without choice” battling for our very hearth and home. Right across the political and religious spectrum we were all united behind the youngsters in the IDF. These brave boys and girls who were putting their life on the line for the safety of our homeland and the future of the Jewish people.

As the missiles rained down on Israel, politics (with the exception of Balad MK Haneen Zoabi) were put on the backburner as we prayed for and enveloped our soldiers with our love.

Troops around Gaza and manning Iron Dome batteries were swamped with supplies by a grateful nation. The face beneath the helmet of the selfless teens became the face of our Zionist dreams and hopes. I vividly recall listening to a new Olah (immigrant) from France being interviewed upon her arrival to Israel and asked if she was scared. She answered that everywhere Jews are threatened. The difference is that here in our own country we can fight back and defend Jewish honour and dignity.

“Heroes of Israel” Photo (c) 2015, T. Book

The tragic news of the death in combat of two Chayalim Bodedim (“Lone Soldiers”) Max and Sean during operation “Defensive Edge” and the subsequent outpouring of both grief and admiration highlighted this small but important group of soldiers within the IDF. They were two of the few thousand “Lone Soldiers” in the IDF. Those brave ideologically motivated and selfless individuals who leave the comforts of their homes and family in the western world and come to serve our Jewish homeland in the most meaningful way.

The local community where I live took our Iron Dome battery defenders under its wings. There was a constant flow of people bringing food and company just to show our appreciation and support. I recall chatting with a young female operator and asking her how she felt about living in relatively primitive conditions coupled with tedious hours of guard duty and intense hours of being on duty. Her answer illustrates why we Israelis in our homeland will never fold and will stand strong and proud with an iron will to fulfill our age old yearning to be a “free people in our land,” despite the murderous intentions of our enemy (see Hamas charter). This young girl, with her rifle and ammunition webbing strapped on, looked at me directly in the eye and said:

I am proud to be able to be able to perform such a meaningful service to my country defending the citizens of this city. All the hardships I endure pale in comparison to the important work my comrades and I are doing here for our country and our families.”

It is heart-warming in these times to meet these special, selfless and proud Jewish young people, who come to give and not to take, and who represent all that is good about the miraculous times we live in. After almost two stateless millennia we live in a fortunate era where we are in charge of our own destiny in our own land and we have good people to show us the way. We live in a fortunate generation where Jews can once again defend their land and people and are in charge of their own destiny. The Induction Oath of the IDF states:

I swear and obligate myself on my word of honour to remain loyal to the State of Israel, its laws and its legitimate administration … and to devote all of my strength, and even to sacrifice my life, in the defense of the homeland and the freedom of Israel.”

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.”
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