Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Sweden’s Jewish Swansong: A Personal Reflection

The lead story in today’s Times of Israel carried the self-explanatory title “Facing death chants and hate crimes, Sweden’s Jews live in a climate of fear,” to which I would like to add my first hand account of daily life in Sweden.

My father Rabbi Dr. Leonard Book was the Rabbi in Malmö, Sweden for eight years, before making Aliyah.  I vividly recall a few years ago a disturbing visit with my family to spent Rosh Hashanah with my parents. We felt like we were back in Europe of the 1930s only this time the Jews were not in fear of the European fascist mobs, but rather of militant Islamic fundamentalist inspired violence.

Malmö synagoga

Malmö Synagogue. ©, Tuvia Book, 2015

Before the holidays, concrete blocks were placed by the municipality in front of the Jewish Community building, bulletproof windows were installed in the synagogue, an armoured police presence was established, the worshipers were told not to congregate in front of the synagogue and a host of other security measures were taken.

Jews told me they were fearful of walking around the city displaying any Jewish symbols (such as a Kippah or Jewish themed Jewelry) due to frequent verbal abuse and threats by Arabs. Everywhere Jews go; to the Jewish kindergarten, to youth movement meetings, to synagogue services they had to be escorted in groups with guards. One could sum up the atmosphere with one word; there was a palpable sense of “FEAR.” I myself was walking down the main street in Malmö wearing my Kippah when some Muslim youths shouted at me “Itbach al Yahud” (“slaughter the Jews” in Arabic).

Now if this was the 1930’s, when there was “no where to run and nowhere to hide” I could understand, but today there is a place to raise ones Jewish children with dignity and without fear. There is a place where one can stand proud and tall and declare “Jag är en Judisk” (I am a Jew). That place is,

The hope of two thousand years, the land of Zion.”

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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