Tuvia Book
Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

A Wall for all.

Witnessing the sickening scene of Jews attacking other Jews, and destroying their prayer books, who disagreed with their interpretation of our common religion at Judaism’s holiest site last week was both incredibly sad and angering.  Ultra-Orthodox extremists attacked women belonging to the “Women of the Wall” movement during the monthly  Rosh Hodesh (New Moon) morning service.  In a few weeks, Jews throughout the world are going to commemorate Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year here in Israel and throughout the Jewish world.  It is a time to reflect and soul search.  The 24-hour fast is supposed to be a catalyst to action.  The central aspect of the fast is to remember what led to so much our misfortune as Jews and what is the solution.  In the immortal words of Rabbi A. I. Kook,

Just as the Temple was destroyed through baseless hatred (Sinat Chinam), it will only be rebuilt through baseless love (Ahavat Chinam).

A few years ago I was at a presentation by Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University, a world-renowned expert on anti-Semitism.  When someone in the audience asked her what was the greatest threat to the Jewish people.  She answered, “the Jews themselves.”

I have just completed a book on the Second Temple Period and in it I discussed how when the Roman army ground to a halt for two years outside the walls of Jerusalem in the year 68 CE, the Jews inside the city walls, instead of uniting against a common foe, descended into a fratricidal frenzy and severely weakened themselves.  United we stand and divided we fall.  It is as we have not learned anything from our own history!

Egalitarian service mourning the destruction of the Temple next to the Western Wall extension on Tisha B’Av. Photo (c)Tuvia Book, 2020

The role of women in traditional Judaism is clearly at variance with the rise of the professional woman in the contemporary period.  Women are now astronauts, doctors, lawyers, Talmud scholars and heads of State.  In the twenty-first century, there is a growing need of many religious women and men to readdress the role of women in Judaism. The gap between our social and ethical values and our synagogue lives is something that we should see as compromising our religious integrity.  The proposed opening of the long-promised Western Wall egalitarian plaza by the incoming “Unity Government” will be a huge step in redressing this situation.

Only when we learn what we have in common, and not what divides us, and share an unconditional love towards our fellow Jews will we be worthy of complete redemption.  What we need in our beloved country is an inclusivist positive step to make the land of the Jewish people a place of tolerance, peace and harmony for all Jews.

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 a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," will be published by Koren this year.
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