Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Experiential Education, Israel Style

Having spent many happy years teaching at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel and guiding for Taglit/Birthright (for both“CIE” and “Amazing Israel”) since its inception, I can safely state that nothing replaces an experience!

It does not matter how many classes one attends, how many great films one sees, or inspirational speakers one hears outside of Israel; one doesn’t “get it” until one has the sensory experience inside the country on the land itself.  In order to fully benefit from what sociologist Shaul Kelner refers to as a “pilgrimage tour” one need to feel the land with all of ones senses; to see it, to touch it, to smell it, to hear and to taste it.  One cannot passively do this from a distance but one has to actively walk the land with ones feet and embrace it with both an open heart and an open mind in order to gain the maximum benefit from such an experience.

A couple of summers ago I was guiding a tour group in the Ellah Valley, just past Beit Shemesh, where the seminal confrontation between David and Goliath forever altered the course of Jewish history. The group was the Fellowship Program of Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE).  It was a small group of young-professionals, who despite largely coming from backgrounds of little or no Jewish connection, had voluntarily spent the past year studying Jewish texts twice-a-week at the MJE and connecting to their heritage.   The culmination of their year is the experiential trip to Israel.

The group had already learned text of David and Goliath from the biblical book of Samuel, but now they were standing at the very place where the actual events took place!  After I lead a role-playing of the text with a lot of enthusiastic participation from the participants/actors, and played a  contemporary musical version of the battle from the popular Israeli group “Kaveret,” the group Rabbi, Pinny Rosenthal, took out his guitar and following the standard rendition of “David Melech Yisrael Chai Vekayam” (“David, King of Israel, lives!”) smoothly slipped into the wedding version of the popular song.  Spontaneously, two wildly dancing circles formed and celebrated on the very same dusty ground the victorious Israelites had rejoiced on three millennia previously!

The following evening in Jerusalem, maybe stimulated by the joyous scenes from the previous day, two of the participants from the group announced their engagement, thus perpetuating their link in the chain of Jewish continuity.


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.”