Thank you Rabbi Link for your wonderful dedication to teaching Bialik students over the years!
Written by Rabbi Steven Link.
I started teaching Barmitzvah boys at the age of 19, at a time when there were no computers, so some of my earlier students are not included in my recorded list of students. Who would have thought when I started teaching that I should have compiled a list of all my students! Now, with the ability to have a spreadsheet on a laptop, I have all my students recorded.
I began teaching privately and when I was offered a job teaching Jewish studies at Moriah College in Sydney, I assisted the Barmitzvah teacher and prepared students for their Barmitzvah. He celebrated his 100th birthday a few years ago. I hope that this happens with all Barmitzvah teachers.
In 1970 I moved from Sydney to Melbourne to take up the position of Chazan and Assistant Minister at St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation. While serving the Congregation for 14 years I taught Barmitzvah boys throughout the 14 years of my tenure there.
While still working at St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation I began teaching at Yavneh College as a Jewish Studies teacher. The school did not offer Barmitzvah tuition at the time but asked me to take up the position of Barmitzvah tutor at the school. (I shared an office with Genia Janover as we were both Senior Masters of the school).
In 1984 I left St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation to take up the position of Chazan and Assistant Minister at Kew Hebrew Congregation. I was to study for my S’micha in order to take over as Rabbi of the Congregation once I completed my studies. During that time, I continued teaching Barmitzvah boys.
In 2009 I was asked to teach Religion and Society 1 & 2 at Bialik College. The Barmitzvah teacher was taken ill so I was asked to take over tutoring his students until his return to good health and his return to the school. Not long after this, he decided to resign and I then took over teaching all the Bar/Batmitzvah students.
Once I was no longer teaching Religion & Society, I continued teaching Bar/Batmitzvah students, which I continue to do.
In 2017 I began teaching Bar/Batmitzvah students also at The King David School.
The one main aspect of my teaching is that I teach one-on-one with my students and I have the opportunity to be a positive influence on them and also to be someone that they can speak to and approach if they have problems.
Of my current recorded 999 students, 250 are students of Bialik College.
I also use my sense of humour with my students so that learning Barmitzvah is fun and not something tedious for them. We do have a lot of fun!!! We also discuss various sports and often have bets on the matches against my teams, with the loser making a small coin donation to the Magen David Adom charity box in my office.
Every student is an individual and I have had to fine tune my way of teaching in order to get the best results from my students.
I have taught students with Down Syndrome, students with hearing loss and students with varied learning difficulties. I went to a school for the deaf and learnt how to communicate with the students using the deaf and dumb sign alphabet. This is much easier than what we see today on TV.
No student is impossible to teach. They only require patience, understanding and dedication.
Apart from the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur Haftarot, I have taught every Parsha multiple times.
The most satisfying aspect of teaching the children their Bar/Batmitzvah is seeing them mature and even doing better in their other school studies. Once they get up in front of so many people in Shule they realise that they can achieve anything.
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