Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Cricket as a Metaphor for Zionism

One of the constant refrains I hear from my tour group participants is; “we did not expect to see this in Israel.”  When ones perception on Israel has been shaped by the media, it often comes as pleasant surprise to encounter the vibrant reality that is Israel.   One of the most unusual sports that people simply do not expect to encounter in arid Israel is the quintessential English game of cricket being played on Israel’s ungreen (in summer) but not unpleasant land.

A few weeks ago this paper ran a story on a rather unusual game of cricket in Israel.  (“Flames interrupt already hot Israeli cricket,” Times of Israel, July 15, 2012).  It featured a team from Rana’ana playing against a team from Lod.  The sight of a bunch of Israelis hailing from England and her Commonwealth decked out in their cricket whites would have been incongruous enough without the bushfire in the background!  As one can observe in the accompanying photograph, in the true Churchillian British fashion the players, with stiff upper lips, continued with the game, even though it was slightly on the warm side: “We shall never surrender!”

 

Despite the natural disturbance the game went on, with my brother (with the very Jewish name of “Charlton”) at the crease stoically facing the bowler.  The game was briefly suspended for a few minutes to allow the local fire brigade to extinguish the flames, and then promptly resumed.

This game could be read as a metaphor for contemporary Zionism.  Israel is in a “hot” neighborhood:  Iran is ranting and posturing, Syria is burning, Lebanon and Egypt are smoldering, and from a distance one would assume that Israelis live in a constant state of fear and depression.  The reality is, whilst Israelis are concerned and keeping a wary eye on our neighbors, people carry on with their lives with a Joie de vivre that visitors find surprising and uplifting.

As one of the players observed: “the dry climate, shortages of water and absence of purpose-built pitches pose frequent challenges. Games are played on matting pitches in sandy clearings…and on a variety of other temporary pitches laid across soccer fields in other towns.” Just as we Israelis have, against all the odds,  managed to use our native ingenuity to create cricket pitches on inhospitable terrain, so too have we managed to revive our language, make the desert bloom, rebuild our homeland, in-gather our exiles and have the ability to defend our homeland and protect Jews worldwide as we continue to reach for the stars. Howzat?!

 

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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