Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Hug a Soldier this Hannukah

The "Modern Maccabees."  Photo (c) T. Book, 2022
The "Modern Maccabees." Photo (c) T. Book, 2022

We live in an age of miracles and wonders! One of the most significant modern miracles is the Jewish State’s rebirth, like a phoenix, from the ashes of the Holocaust. The young Jewish pioneers at the turn of the previous century toiled to create a “brave new world” where Jews would be able to, in the words of our national anthem Hatikva, “be a free people in our land.” This dream became a reality, not because Jews sat back and relied on miracles, but rather because Jews worked hard to make miracles happen! These youngsters, one Hebrew word at a time, one tree at a time and one Jewish defender at a time revived our long dormant sense of self-esteem and our physical connection to our land.

I vividly remember a few years ago during my milluim (reserve IDF duty) lighting the Menorah for my combat unit in the middle of the Negev Desert and singing together with my fellow IDF soldiers from all different backgrounds the Al Hanissim (“for the miracles”) prayer and thinking of the significance of the words: “The few against the many…in those days and in these days.”

Lighting a Hannukiah during my IDF reserve service. Photo (c) T. Book, 2002

Growing up in the Diaspora Hannukah was a time of year marked by oily food, lots of presents and stories about men in skirts and swords. This week I will be lighting the Menorah in Modiin, the place where the events that shaped modern Jewish history actually took place. It certainly makes the events seem more “real” and tangible. On Shabbat Hannukah there is a service held in an ancient synagogue from the time of the Hasmoneans! All of this is reminding us indeed to be full of gratitude for the times we live in and we should show that gratitude to the young men and women serving in the IDF who make it possible. In the words of Chaim Herzog:

In Israel today, Chanukah has become a holiday that inspires the modern nation, as it commemorates the ancient struggle for independence. Today’s Israelis see themselves as successors to the Maccabees; the few who won their freedom and independence by daring to face the many.

So this Hannukah we should take time to show some “Hakarat Hatov” (appreciation) to these young boys and girls, these modern Maccabees, who are giving the best years of their lives in selfless service and keeping our Zionist dream alive. Donate to and help Lone Soldiers. Go and give soldiers at checkpoints, on patrols, and in their bases, food and love. Go and hug a soldier, say thank you to these wonderful young Jews who remind us that the miracle of Hannukah is not some dusty ancient tale, but rather, thanks to them, is the ongoing existence and thriving of our Jewish homeland.

The above article contains some extracts from my latest book, published  by Koren. “Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt, 536 BCE-136 CE.”

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 was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. 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," was published by Koren this year. To order:
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