Tuvia Book
Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Tears and Joy: From Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’Azmaut

Those who sow in tears, will reap in joy. (Psalm 126:5)

I attended my first funeral when I was 19. The theme colour was purple. Hundreds of mourners from my IDF Givati unit were gathered to pay our final respects to one of our brothers-in-arms. After the appropriate prayers and psalms were recited, the silence of the military cemetery was shattered by the report of the honour guard. This was followed by the cries of family and friends as the flag-draped coffin was slowly lowered into the soil of Israel. All these years later the memory that sticks with me of that awful day is that everyone, from the Brigade commander to the family members, were united in grief for our brother who was killed in action defending our homeland.

Givati Brigade soldiers on Mt. Herzl. Photo (c) t. Book, 2021

It is no coincidence that Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) immediately precedes Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day), for without the former the latter would not be possible.  The “hope of 2,000 years to be a free people in our land” (Hatikvah) only became a reality when we Jews took matters into our own hands.  It is not enough to yearn, weep, hope and pray as the Jews did for almost two stateless millennia.  One has to stand up and do what is right, to “walk the walk.”

One of the big lessons I learned in my regular IDF service and subsequent years of reserve duty was drummed into us during basic training.  After running around for hours in the sun, we were given a few minutes to rest in our tent.  We all flopped gratefully onto our camp beds.  After a few seconds the sergeant stood outside and asked for a volunteer.  Initially we all said:  “Nu, somebody go out.”  When there was no volunteer forthcoming, the sergeant shouted, “everybody out!”  This scenario repeated itself until suddenly the realization dawned that sometimes one must step forward to be the “someone” who volunteers.  In the words of Gandhi: “We must become the change we wish to see.”

This year, as we commemorate and pay tribute to the 23,835 casualties of war and terrorism on Yom Hazikaron, and celebrate our 73rd Yom Ha’Atzmaut, let us be grateful for those young men and women who give the best years of their life, and sometimes their very lives themselves, and are the people who step forward to keep our Zionist dream alive. Chag Sameach!

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 a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. 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," will be published by Koren this year.
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