Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Roi Klein: The Moment of Truth

A couple of weeks ago, as I stood by the grave of Major Roi Klein z”l, amid the silent hills and grassy quietude of the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem with my “Amazing Israel” Birthright group of Americans and serving Israeli soldiers in uniform, my mind wondered back six years.

In the summer of 2006 I, together with many other Israeli active reservists in combat units, received a “Tzav Shmoneh” emergency call-up.  I was in Australia at the time presenting at a ZFA Zionist education conference.  I rushed back to join my unit in what would become known as the Second Lebanon War.  I remember the stunned awful shock when we heard in the midst of the war how a deputy battalion commander in the Golani brigade had jumped on a grenade, whilst shouting “Shema Yisrael” in order to save the life of his men.  I made a promise that I would take the first group I would guide after the war to the grave of this holy man.

About a month after the war I arrived at the site of the grave with a Birthright group and, despite the prepared speech, could not get a word out.  My eyes filled with tears and my throat constricted as I pictured his widow, Sarah, and two young children, Gilad and Yoav, who were the same age as my own two children at the time, visiting this site for many more years.  They would grow up not knowing the wonderful and loving husband and father buried there.  Roi’s sister Yifat lamented, “You’ve become everyone’s hero, and I’m left with only memories, pictures and pain.”

Six years has not dulled the pain or the sense of loss.  As we commemorate the memorial day for Roi, who was buried in this month of Menachem Av on his thirty-first birthday, it is imperative for us to remember what he lived and died for.  He was the quintessential Religious Zionist who wanted to combine his love of his religion, people and land with ACTIONS.  He literally walked the walk.  He was a senior officer in the IDF, as well as in the process of completing his Rabbinical ordination and the recipient of a university degree.  Most importantly he was a devoted husband and father.  In Judaism we are taught that it does not matter how long one lives, but rather what one does with the life one lives.  What does one do at ones “moment of truth?”  Roi’s whole life lead up to his moment of truth, and he had the calm spirit to step forward himself and do what he felt was right.  Roi died as he lived, selflessly sanctifying God’s name among the masses.  May we all continue to be inspired by this Jewish hero and may his children and good deeds be his eternity.

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: