Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Masada: The Tale of Two Coins

A few weeks ago, as I stood in front of my “Amazing Israel” Birthright group on top of Masada on a blazing 48 degrees Celsius (115 Degrees Fahrenheit) day, I realized that it was not the time for a lengthy discussion on the history and importance of the site.  I reached into my trusty Tour-Guide backpack and brought out a 64 year old Israeli coin that symbolised all that was important, meaningful and indeed miraculous about Masada and the modern State of Israel…

The Great Revolt ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE and the fall of Masada in 73 CE.  This was followed by the erection of triumphal arches and minting of victory coins by the triumphant Romans.  The coin minted by Vespasian to commemorate this hard-won victory portrayed a palm tree symbolising the Jewish homeland, with a Roman soldier in full armour standing victoriously over a weeping woman symbolising the destroyed Jewish nation.  The coin bore the legend, “Iudaea Capta” (Judea has been captured)

                                    Judea Capta coin, c. 70 CE

In 1948, to commemorate its reestablishment, the State of Israel minted a coin in the former Roman administrative capital of Caesaria (the only coin not to be minted in Jerusalem) also depicting a palm tree for the Jewish homeland, but instead of a Roman soldier, there was a Jewish woman holding a baby up to the heavens symbolising the rebirth of the Jewish people like a phoenix out of the ashes of the Shoah, and in place of the weeping woman was a Jewish farmer (her husband) planting new roots for the Jewish people in our homeland.  The coin bore the legend: “Israel Liberated 1948”.  These two coins sum up the history of exile and return to our land.  In the prophetic words of the Bible: “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126)

                                        Israel Liberated coin, 1948


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: