Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

We See the Light: Chanukah in Israel

As we lit the fifth candle of Chanukah in our home in Modiin yesterday, my mind was abuzz with images and emotions of having the fortune to celebrate Chanukah in Israel, in the city where the revolt actually started over two millennia ago!

Chanukah is so much more significant in Israel than in the Diaspora.  There is a sense outside Israel that the minor rabbinic festival of Chanukah was given a new life in order to “compete” with Christmas.  In Israel, by contrast, Chanukah was given a new lease of life by the nascent Zionist movement.


When one is in Israel during a religious or nationalistic Jewish holiday one feels what it is like, as a Jew, to be part of a majority culture in at least one country on earth.  The whole country is literally lit up with Chanukiot (Menorahs) in both private homes and public places.  Even the train stations have Chanukiot!  Children are off school and many, including my family, are hiking all over the country connecting with our land, our home.

The holiday of Chanukah is celebrated with particular zeal by all the Jewish streams in Israel, albeit for different reasons.  When lighting the candles and celebrating, the Ultra-Orthodox focus of the religious significance; “the miracle of the oil.”  The secular Zionists emphasis the nationalistic significance; “the miracle of the return of the Jewish people to our land and the ability to defend ourselves,” and the National-Religious focus of a mixture of both the religious and nationalistic significance.

I vividly remember a few years ago during my Milluim (reserve IDF duty) lighting the chanukiah for my combat unit in the middle of the desert and singing together with my fellow IDF soldiers from all different backgrounds the Al Hanissim prayer and thinking of the significance of the words: “The few against the many…in those days and in these days.”  As I light the Channukiah with my family and friends I thank God that we have a State that reminds us that we Jews are not just people of the Book but also people of the land.  Chag Urim 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 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.”