IDF, The Modern Macabees

In Israel today, Chanukah has become a holiday that inspires the modern nation, as it commemorates the ancient struggle for independence. Today’s Israelis see themselves as successors to the Maccabees; the few who won their freedom and independence.”                                                                                                                          -Chaim Herzog

I vividly remember one night of Hanukah during my IDF service lighting the Menorah for my combat unit in the middle of the desert and singing together with my fellow IDF brothers-in-arms from all different ethnic and religious backgrounds the Al Hanissim (“for the miracles”) prayer of Hanukah and thinking of the significance of the words. “The few against the many…in those days and at this time.”

Tuvia lighting the Menorah for his IDF unit in the Negev

I recall standing on that very special Hanukah night, wearing the most meaningful suit of clothes I have ever had the honour to wear, the IDF uniform, under starlit sky of the Negev desert.  I heard the sounds of modern Jewish fighters singing about ancient military victories against seemingly insurmountable odds ringing in my ears. At that profound moment, as I sailed back over the seas of our history to the Hebrew warriors of the Hasmonean revolt I understood what it meant to be, in the words of Yonatan Netanyahu, “a link in the chain of Jewish continuity.”

“A Band of Brothers” Photo (c)T.Book, 2017
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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