Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Yom HaZikaron 2024. Why Good will Triumph over Evil

Yom HaZikaron ceremony for The Base at Ammunition Hill, 2024. Photo (c) T. Book, 2024

According to the Talmud, one should build a synagogue (Beit Knesset) on the highest hill of your city. Yet on the highest hill of the holiest city of our people Jerusalem, there is not a Beit Knesset, but a Beit Kvarot/Cemetery.  The Mt. Herzl military cemetery.  That is a holy place.  That is where the holy men and women, our kedoshim,  who paid the ultimate price for our freedom are at eternal rest in the holy soil of our land. They are the “Silver Plater” our State was served to us.

I have friends, brothers in arms, buried at that holy place who will forever be 19. They will never feel the soft hand of a parent, lover or child. They will never see the glory of a sunrise or sunset. They are forever walking in the green fields of Elysium. Freedom is not free.

Mt Herzl memorial ceremony. Photo, T Book, 2024

We live in an age of miracles and wonders.  Just last week we commemorated Holocaust and Heroes Memorial Day.  One third of the Jewish people were murdered because the State of Israel was created a decade too late. If there would have been a state in 1938, and not 1948, the Shoah would not have happened.  But there was not a state and there was a Holocaust.

When the greatest massacre and mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust happened last October, we can be grateful that we live in 2024, in the 76th year for the State of Israel, and not in 1944.

After the initial shock, disbelief and horror began to dissipate, it was replaced by anger and icy resolve. Our evil enemies wanted (and want) to break our spirit.  Rather than break us they succeeded uniting us.   Hundreds of thousands of men and women, “the new Jews,” myself included, reported to our IDF units to make sure that “never again” means NEVER AGAIN.

My IDF unit, (of which I am the oldest volunteer) serving in the Gaza sector, is a Palmar. This is a medical extraction unit. We are composed of Doctors, paramedics, combat Medics and Combat troops. Our role is to facilitate the speedy medivac of our wounded heroes, either by air or ground.  One of the statistics that is less known in this war are the thousands of wounded who did not enter eternity because of the speedy and efficient medical treatment they received on the way to the hospital.  We are world leaders in this type of rapid medical evacuation.

The women and men of my unit come from all different types of backgrounds and are the reason that we will ultimately prevail. The soldiers in my Palmar represent the glory and diversity of Israel. We have different faiths, religious views, genders, political views, and countries of origin.  We have native Israelis and lone soldiers from all over the globe, from Argentina to the UK. Whatever the soldiers background they did not come to take, but to give.

Sometimes, unfortunately, even with all out good intentions and training, we are not able to make it on time. Israel is a very small country, and there are not many degrees of separation.  We have been honoured to save many soldier’s lives. However, on one occasion, as we were racing to extract a badly wounded soldier and receiving updates in the way, we were devastated to hear that he had entered eternity before we got there. Even more distressing we found out on our arrival, that the recently deceased holy soldier was the brother-in-law of one of our officers, Ariel, who was with us at the time.  His name is Oriya Mesh z”l.  He had the devastating and tragic duty of escorting his sister’s husband back home to his final resting place.

Interestingly, the first question wounded soldiers ask us, no matter how badly wounded, is “when can I go back to my brothers?”  It is not about them, but about the whole, the family. This is why we will win this war against evil. We are “one people and one heart.”  Light will overcome darkness.

Yom HaZikaron ceremony for The Base at Ammunition Hill, 2024. Photo (c) T. Book, 2024

The above text was an extract from my speech at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Ammunition Hill, Jerusalem for The Base at the ceremony tonight.

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:
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