Frisch convened special programs this week for freshmen and sophomores to hear from Dr. Tuvia Book, Frisch’s new Director of Israel Education and Advocacy. Dr. Book spoke to students about the current situation in Israel, how the media misrepresents terrorist incidents in Israel by portraying Israel as the aggressor, and why Israel, the Jewish homeland, is so critical for the continued survival of the Jewish people.
“A lot of us take Israel for granted,” said Dr. Book, “and it’s difficult for us to have hakarat hatov, gratitude, when we simply expect something.”
Dr. Book told students about visiting Auschwitz this past year as a tour guide for a group from The Shoah Foundation, a group which included film director Steven Spielberg and survivors of Auschwitz. There, they encountered a group of IDF soldiers also exploring the grounds, one of the largest Jewish graveyards in the world. Dr. Book asked them to join him in singing Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, and the photo of this experience, which he displayed to students, was remarkable for its implications. As Dr. Book explained: “We live in amazing times. Jews might always be hunted, but now that we have Israel, and an army to protect it, we can now defend ourselves. We can take charge of our own destiny, and that is only because we have a country to call our own.”
Despite the fact that Jews can now defend themselves from those who wish to do them harm, Dr. Book gave several examples of how the media prints inflammatory headlines, lacking any context, so that Israel is painted as the antagonist in the Middle East. “This past week alone, there are now 13 new Jewish orphans, some of them who have seen their parents murdered before their eyes,” explained Dr. Book. “The world keeps painting a different picture with misleading headlines, however, preferring that Jews don’t fight back when they are attacked.”
In this vein, Dr. Book told students about Elan Bielski, the grandson of Alexander “Zus” Bielski, one of the Bielski brothers who banded together to save over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust. Inspired by his family’s example of protecting the Jewish people, Elan became a lone soldier in the IDF in 2011. Frisch is honored to count dozens of alumni who have also made the difficult yet courageous choice to translate their Zionism into tangible action by becoming lone soldiers in Israel.
“We should be proud that we can defend ourselves from harm now,” said Dr. Book. “It might be difficult to be a Jew, but it is not a burden. It is a privilege.”
In the year ahead, Dr. Book will be teaching juniors and a special elective for seniors on the Arab-Israel conflict, equipping students with history and context and empowering them to serve as articulate advocates for Israel on college campuses and in general society. A foremost expert in Zionist education, Dr. Book will be utilizing a textbook he authored, “For the Sake of Zion: A Curriculum of Israel Education (JAFI: 2016), in the classroom. He is planning a series of lectures, trips and programs for all students to supplement their Israel education.