Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

“The Most Policy Relevant Action:” The Israel Experience Trip

‘Tis the season of Birthright!  Once again we are starting to notice the ubiquitous Birthright and Israel Experience teen-tour buses on the roads of Israel.  One of the proven paths focusing on an enhanced understanding of Israel to strengthen Jewish identity is the Israel experience trip.  Gil Troy (2006) notes that,

There is a positive association between a visit to Israel and measures of Jewish identification, community affiliation and religious practice.

David Mittelberg (1999), concurring with Troy and numerous other researchers, claims that, “An Israel visit continues to reflect or to serve as an extra powerful element in the Jewish identity of the individual.”

The point being that the strength and nature of one’s connection with Israel is often used as an indicator of Jewish identity among Diaspora Jews.  An Israel experience complements both Jewish identity formation and Israel education providing that the Israel experience focuses on Israel as a modern dynamic society full of rich diversity and issues it is facing and grappling with, then there is great potential for the participant’s personal connections to Judaism and the Jewish State.

tuv taglit 2012

My “Amazing Israel” Birthright Group

Steven Cohen’s (2008) research considers differences in identification and identity between Israeli and American Jews, as well as between American Jews who have visited Israel and those who have not.  His results indicate that the relationship between the Israel education and Jewish identity is so significant that placing an Israel trip on the Jewish/Israel education agenda, according to Cohen,

“An Israel trip may be the most policy relevant action organized Jews can undertake to stem the erosion in Israel attachment (and resulting Jewish identity) among younger adult Jews”

Cohen’s survey specifically concluded that the impact of an Israel trip is essential for fortifying Jewish identity and commitment and preventing alienation from Israel and the Jewish faith.  This is clearly more significant for younger people. The research would seem to lend credence to the commonly held belief that an “Israel experience” will reverse the tendency among younger Diaspora Jews to be more distant from Israel, and the Jewish faith, and will indeed help reinforce their engagement with both Judaism and the Jewish State.

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.”