Last Sunday Bialik proudly hosted the ‘Buchenwald Ball’, celebrating 76 years since the liberation of the ‘Buchenwald Boys’. This special gathering was held in the Bursztyn Family Senior Library where more than 200 community members danced and shared the incredible stories of survival of their fathers and grandfathers. We were delighted to see many of our current and past students, parents and grandparents at the event.
The ‘Buchenwald Boys’ are a group of Holocaust survivors who were liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp on 11 April 1945. Their story is one of resilience, friendship, and rebuilding life after tragedy .
The Boys arrived at Buchenwald from different locations in Europe, however their shared experience of survival which eventually landed them in Melbourne in the 1940s, formed the basis for lifelong connections between the Boys, their partners, children and subsequent generations. Each year since arriving in Australia, the Boys have celebrated their liberation at annual event called ‘Buchenwald Ball’.
More information on the Buchenwald Boys can be found here https://www.monash.edu/buchenwald-boys/home.
The Buchenwald Boys website was authored by historian and Bialik grandparent Dr Anita Frayman, and has become a part of the Victorian schools’ curriculum for Holocaust education in Year 10.
Principal Jeremy, was the keynote speaker and explored the concept of remembrance as an expression of Jewish history. He spoke of the important role our Jewish day schools play in keeping our community connected and ensuring the stories of the Survivors are never forgotten. It was an honour and privilege to welcome the Buchenwald Boys and their families to Bialik.
Cooking for a Cause: Combining Traditional Jewish Mitzvot and Modern Jewish Students
Did you know that traditionally Jews must donate 10% of their income to those in need, also known as ma’sar kesafim?
When it comes to Etgar, these things are honoured and adapted so that most things done in the Etgar program are not only incredibly enjoyable, but the participants are doing a mitzvah as well.
This week we spoke to a few of the members of the Cooking for a Cause team and discovered some fascinating information. Down in the Shuk kitchens, 16 diligent students are working hard, preparing delicious food every Friday afternoon. Led by Ian Poyser, they learn new recipes and cooking techniques that will support them in the near future. These skills include learning how to use knives properly, boiling food or putting something in the oven, and learning how to check if the food is ready. Although these may seem like basic skills, they will allow the students to cook more complex food in the future. “To me, Etgar means learning new skills that will help you in life,” says a member of the Cooking for a Cause team.
Last Friday they made scrumptious blueberry, strawberry, and dark chocolate muffins. “I chose to do this elective because I really enjoy cooking,” said another member of the group. “And it’s even better to do it for a good cause!” Another student said that in cooking for a cause, “You learn how to cook while providing food for those in need.” She also explained that “at the moment [they] aren’t actually giving it to the charities because of coronavirus, but [they] have the people that [they] would be donating to in mind as [they] make the food.”
By Ashley B, Helena M and Ruth P
A holiday greeting from Principal Jeremy
Pesach (Passover) is the festival of so many things. It is Chag HaHerut, the festival of freedom (when the Israelites were led by Moses from slavery). It is Chag HaPesach, the festival when the pascal lamb (symboilised by the shank bone on the seder plate). Most famously it ChagHaMatzot, the festival of matza, or unleavened bread – the bread that did not have time to rise, such was the haste in the exodus.
Its final name is Chag HaAviv, the Festival of Spring. Given its position in the calendar, and the location of its events in the northern hemisphere, this makes sense.
Yet how do we in Melbourne, and we at Bialik, celebrate a Spring festival when, to paraphrase Game of Thrones, in our calendar Winter Is Coming.
Spring symbolises new growth, change and health, and as we emerge from the Covid winter, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. We have experienced the confines of lockdown and the freedom of emergence from it. We have experienced stocked pantries (and full cupboards of toilet roll) in preparation for challenges ahead. In the latest news from the Health Department, we will be permitted 100 people in our homes for Seder night – quite a seder!
So here we are, at the end of a vibrant term, normality returning, and hope on the horizon. With our Festival of Spring, our incredible Athletics Day today celebrating inclusion, determination, talent and resilience, and having watched an uplifting performance of The 39 Steps – a venture into comedic theatre for our students – we are now ready to take a break over the Pesach holidays, eat Matza, celebrate freedom and our own special version of Spring.
The ins and outs of building a business
Recently, you might’ve seen some posters stuck on your classroom door, advertising milkshakes or cookies for you to buy.
But where are all these products coming from? In periods five and six every Friday you can find members of the Build a Business Etgar team working hard, thinking of new and creative ways to improve and sell their products. Guided by Rob DeMarco and Jon Ting, the 20 students paired up and designed products to sell around the school and advertisements for them. On certain lunchtimes or Friday afternoons, you can purchase some delicious treats for very reasonable prices.
To begin creating their businesses, the groups made business plans. These included details about what their product was, what they needed to make it, the cost, their competitors, their target audience and what makes their product stand out from the rest. They then used this to design the ideal advertising campaign and product. This clearly worked as many of the products sold out in less than 2 hours! Alisa managed to make 87 dollars and counting from her delicious cookies. But you don’t need to feel guilty about spending your money, because all the profits made by the businesses will be donated to the Lighthouse foundation, a charity that helps homeless young people. Some other products for sale are icy poles, stress balls and milkshakes.
Build a business gives real world experience for what being an entrepreneur is like and teaches how to overcome challenges and successfully create a business. This is very evident with the group selling milkshakes who, although they got off on a rocky start, managed to make outstanding amounts of money. They used the skills they learned in build a business to conquer their challenges and come out on top, which is what Etgar is all about!
By Ashley B, Helena M and Ruth P
The Torah (Jewish Bible) describes the reaction of the Israelites to seeing an approaching Egyptian Army, whilst standing with their backs to the sea:
As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites caught sight of the Egyptians advancing upon them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites cried out to the L-rd. And they said to Moses, “Was it for want of graves in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us be, and we will serve the Egyptians, for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness’?” (Exodus 14:10-12)
Regarding this, Ibn Ezra, comments:
One may wonder how [such] a large camp of six hundred thousand men would be afraid of those pursing after them. And why did they not fight for their lives and for their children? The answer is that the Egyptians were the Israelites’ masters. And [so] this generation that went out of Egypt learned from its youth to tolerate the yoke of Egypt and had a lowly image. And [so] how could they now battle with their masters? And Israel was [also] indolent and not trained in warfare. Do you not see that Amalek came with [only] a small group and were it not for the prayer of Moses, they would have overpowered Israel. And the only G-d, ‘who does great things’ and ‘for whom all plots are contemplated,’ caused that all the males of the people that went out of Egypt would die. As there was no strength in them to fight against the Canaanites, until a new generation, after the generation of the desert, arose. And they did not see exile and they had a [confident] spirit…
Fear had debilitated the Israelites to the extent that, even after their physical liberation, they could not fathom acting in a way that would further their freedom and improve their lives and those of their children. They did not merely view themselves as incapable of moving forward, but as being inherently unworthy of doing so. Literal slavery (the deepest layer of indecision a human can reach) was the default preference that resulted from such fear. In response to this inaction, Moses interceded:
But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the L-rd will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The L-rd will battle for you; you hold your peace!” Then the L-rd said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. And you lift up your rod and hold out your arm over the sea and split it, so that the Israelites may march into the sea on dry ground.” (Exodus 14:13-16)
Moses, in contrast to the people, was not stricken with distress to the extent that slavery appeared preferable to having to confront the crisis at hand. His immediate response was instead an appeal to faith and prayer. G-d, however, was unwilling to accept faith as the only reaction to such a crisis. He demanded action as well. Nahshon ben Amminadab was the one who engaged. He jumped into the still raging waters, which ultimately prompted the miraculous splitting of the sea. The Talmud (Sotah 37a) describes his response, and elaborates on the conversation between G-d and Moses:
…this tribe said: I am not going into the sea first, and that tribe said: I am not going into the sea first. Then, in jumped the prince of Judah, Nahshon ben Amminadab, and descended into the sea first… And in this regard, the tradition, i.e., the Writings, explicates Nahshon’s prayer at that moment: “Save me, G-d; for the waters are come in even unto the soul. I am sunk in deep mire, where there is no standing…let not the water flood overwhelm me, neither let the deep swallow me up” (Psalms 69:2–3, 16). At that time, Moses was prolonging his prayer. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to him: My beloved ones are drowning in the sea and you prolong your prayer to me? Moses said before Him: Master of the Universe, but what can I do? G-d said to him: “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward. And you, lift up your rod and stretch out your hand” (Exodus 14:15-16). For this reason, because Nahshon and the tribe of Judah went into the sea first, the tribe of Judah merited to govern Israel.
It is not the case that Nahshon was unafraid. He was clearly terrified and very much aware of the mortal danger he was placing himself in. However, he recognized that to advance (in both an immediate and larger sense) and to live a life of meaning and purpose, one must take risks. It is also evident that his response included prayer, but Nahshon asked G-d to assist him in his actions, rather than relying upon G-d’s actions alone.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe understood Nahshon’s deed as an intergenerational mandate:
One man named Nahshon jumped into the sea, and caused the great miracle of the splitting of the sea. Technically, he was under no obligation to do so. Nevertheless, he knew that G‑d wanted Israel to move onward toward Sinai. Therefore, he did what he needed to do. There was a sea in his way. Therefore, he jumped into the sea and ploughed toward his goal. The lesson for all of us is that we must stay focused on our life’s mission, disregarding all obstacles. (Sicha, 10 Shevat 5716)
I recently experienced an incident, which, on a superficial level, was quite comparable to that of Nahshon’s. My family and I were on a daytrip to Flinder’s Blowhole, a beautiful natural wonder that includes steep cliffs leading down to a jagged coastline, replete with rocks and the white foamy spray of the Bass Strait. Whilst there, my two year-old son suddenly and unexpectedly jumped down into the water. Without time to process what had occurred, I jumped in after him. Three days later, I was out of hospital and my son and I were miraculously safely home. I say that my experience compares superficially to that of Nahshon, because, unlike him, I had no time to think about my course of action. There was no deliberation. I am thankful for that, as not having to consider the danger I was exposing myself to was certainly a concealed blessing. What is truly heroic is not split second decisions like mine, but those, like Nahshon’s, that include a full consideration of the implications and risks involved.
To be certain, caution is often wise. Every risk taken produces a potential rejection or failure that simply did not exist beforehand. However, superficial comfort in inaction when faced with significant decisions often prevents individuals from making hard choices and never taking risks is a definitive recipe for a stunted life. How tragic it is when we are enslaved by nightmares that are entirely the manifestations of our own thoughts. Ibn Ezra highlighted that the weakness of the generation of the exile from Egypt was primarily a product of their mindset. This is echoed in the words of Rabbi Dr Abraham Twersky who understood that, “Low self esteem means that a person is unaware of one’s strengths and abilities and hence underestimates oneself.” It is far too easy to limit self-perceptions of our potential, the parameters of which we can rarely fathom. Conversely, we often greatly minimise at best, and at worse simply accept the horrors of, the consequences of submission to the status quo. Nahshon is justifiably understood to be a hero, and whilst his actions were certainly valiant, they were also measured and rational. The alternative to plunging into the ocean was not comfort and safety, but rather slavery or death at the hands of the Egyptians. It was a textbook case of Zapata’s precept, “I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.”
Nahshon’s descendants in the Tribe of Judah merited to govern Israel because embracing calculated risk is the only way to move a person, or a people, forward. May we all merit to carry the spirit of Nahshon throughout our lives, to weather and learn from the blows of our personal oceans, and accept that whilst the water is fraught with danger, it is also the only route to our personal and collective freedom.
Director of Jewish Life
Year 5 Camp
Our Bialik camp experience can be one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences in each student’s life.
Camp provides children with a community of caring mentors and teachers who provide experiential education that leads to self-respect and appreciation for life. All of the outcomes—friendships, independence, overcoming challenges, staying healthy and building character— prepare them for life skills down the road. In addition to great friendships and enduring memories, many important life skills are learned at camp.
Our camp pushed the students out of their comfort zone and exposed them to new activities and experiences that they may not be familiar with. They experienced a 250 metre giant swing, canoeing, kayaking, gorge walking, survival tasks, raft building, archery, and stand up paddleboarding, in addition to night activities with the Year 10 madrichim!
The sleeping in a tent experience was a highlight of this camp. The students had the opportunity to stargaze and see a night sky so different to the sky in a city environment. They were woken by the local kookaburras and smelled the clean fresh eucalyptus trees before having a hearty breakfast.
The camp experience developes social skills, teaches children to communicate, work together as part of a team, and be a leader. To help develop leadership skills, the students also fulfilled the responsibilities of setting up and cleaning after dinner, looking after their cabins and clothing while sharing resources.
I was so proud to see that every student took healthy risks, set personal goals, and realised their dreams. Their sense of achievement was evident by their enthusiastic smiles and the sound of their words, “I was scared at first, but I did it!”
Our camp experience provided the students with the core values of a strong, moral individual by teaching them about ethics, honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. Moreover, the camp experience helps to foster independence. I am happy to report that most of the students slept without any midnight alerts of being homesick! The camp provides a safe environment with caring teachers, mentors and peers who allow our children to quickly overcome their need for parental dependency for a few nights.
Our goal was to provide a memorable time for our students where creativity, adventure, thrills, smiles and plain old good times were the priority. Tick!!
Head of Primary School
‘The Paper Cup’: Bialik’s All-New Café Sensation
The Etgar college notices team is back at it this week with another jam (and hot chocolate) packed, behind-the-scenes article! Today we’re taking a deep dive into the Barista program.
As explained in our previous notice, Etgar means to challenge oneself; expand one’s knowledge, and try new skills. Our team decided to live up to our name when searching for news about their delicious new treats.
We interviewed a few members of the Barista team about their delicious recipes and where their profits go, and here is what we discovered.
On an average Friday afternoon, most students are in class, labouring over one assignment or another, but not the Etgar barista team! They’re in the Shuk kitchen, cooking up a storm of delicious café-style food & drinks for their wonderful café, The Paper Cup, and selling it all to students and teachers alike. “Everything is made fresh with quality produce, and a lot of love,” says Sally E, leader of the Barista program.
When you buy a cookie or a hot chocolate from The Paper Cup, all you’re thinking about is what a good idea it was to spend those few dollars you found at the bottom of your school bag on your warm, sweet treat. What you don’t know is behind the counter, a team of year 8 & 9 baristas are busily managing 3 sections of the café, including marketing, selling, and the making of the delicious creations that you can buy. Behind the crafting of the remarkably aromatic coffees and warm, comforting hot chocolates are Justin K and Jaxson B. There are also 2 managers, who oversee the café, and make sure everybody is doing their part.
Not only will buying something from The Paper Cup be a delicious treat to smooth the edges between week and weekend, but you’d be doing a mitzvah to those in need as well! All profits made by the Etgar barista team will be sent to a worthy charity sponsored by Bialik, supporting people and animals in need. “The Barista program is a great opportunity for people to learn a life skill,” says Sally Elliot.
So, if you’re feeling peckish on a Friday afternoon, and you want your hard-earned money to go towards a worthy cause, wander down to the Shuk, or order from one of the waiters walking around the school to make The Paper Cup even more accessible to you all.
By Ashley B, Helena M and Ruth P
Bialik in the Bush
‘Bialik In The Bush’ is our newest Primary initiative providing positive environmental and social educational outcomes for Year 3 students.
Embedding Indigenous culture and knowledge into outdoor learning enables students to gain an appreciation of the land and, in our Acknowledgment to Country, what it means to, ‘tread lightly.’
In this investigative and experiential space, the students will learn how natural and human processes cause changes to Earth’s surface and the importance of making informed choices. Students are using a range of scientific equipment to systematically collect, record, and evaluate data. Through a scientific lens, they are making many discoveries including the effects of temperature in nature, design investigations to show that heat is involved in changes of state, and use shadows to demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun.
Students will explore the ground surfaces and the Frog Bog to identify living mini-beasts such as invertebrates and their habitats as well as explore the skies to identify the birdlife that has reclaimed our Bialik environment.
Through digital technologies, students will share their learning with the Bialik community through blogs, videos, and podcasts. Stay tuned for their updates!
Science Week 2021
Bettie Kornhauser Science Week at Bialik is now in its 7th year. Science week is an annual event that we run during the first term and sees students from across the entire school engaging in a range of activities around a common theme. Our theme this year was ‘The World of Science’. Our students and staff love Science Week because it provides opportunities for students to become scientists in different scenarios, whether it be by conducting experiments or interacting with special guests.
Creche + Early Learning Centre (ELC)
Children in the creche will be exploring various magnetic toys to explore how different objects attract or repel each other. The ELC prep students visited the laboratories to investigate how different household chemicals can create a colour change when mixed with a purple solution made from cabbage.
Our Year 2 students investigated various chemical reactions, and have a take-home crystal growing kit to continue their experimentation further. The Year 3 classes dissected sheep brains to learn all about why our brains are so special, and came up with so many interesting questions! Students in Year 4 made some new friends when they met various backyard minibeasts such as millipedes, tarantulas and cockroaches. Our Year 5 scientists were amazed by the ‘Big Science Show’, where some brave students sat on a chair made of nails.
In the Middle School, Year 6 students began to use soldering irons to make so glowing wearable technology in the makerspace. Year 7 students had a zoo experience where they got to hold snakes, pat a crocodile and even pet a koala. Year 8 students will be racing drones in an obstacle course during the rest of term, and our Year 9 students were amazed by the magician, who explained the neuroscience behind his magic tricks.
Students from the Senior School will hone their STEM skills when they take part in a planks engineering activity. The Year 10s learned how to protect their brains during IAL and our Year 12 students spent lunchtime with the Australian animals.
Bialik gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Science Week at Bialik, in memory of Bettie Kornhauser.
Head of Science
Growing research into animal-assisted therapies has seen an increase in the implementation of therapy animals, such as dogs, in the educational setting. This Year in our Primary school we not only welcomed 35 new students but we have adopted a wonderful dog and 2 rabbits.
In past few years Bialik has em’barked’ (excuse the pun) on 2 such programs namely ‘Dogs for Life’, a weekly program aimed at assisting our younger students to understand their social world through their relationship with the dogs and, over the past 12 months, Bialik College in association with Dogs For Life and La Trobe University, trained 3 dogs destined to go to returned service personnel in need of a therapy dog.
With these remarkably successful programs in place, Bialik students and staff have continued to experience the incredible benefits of animal therapy and have now adopted a permanent pooch into our Primary school.
Ryley is of the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. She is a past graduate of the Dogs for Life Program and is proudly owned by the Furman family (Teacher Emma – 4B). During the school day Ryley lives in our Primary school giving love and comfort to those who need a pat, a cuddle or a circuit breaker. She is part of our teaching team, assisting our students to develop responsibility, empathy and risk taking.
Ryley along with our 2 new rabbits, Blossom and Lilac, and our 6 friendly chickens are such welcome additions to our school and simply bring unconditional love to all.
Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and anxiety related issues. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. Pets can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress and improve your overall psychological state.
The presence of pets in a school setting has also been linked to improvements in school attendance, student confidence levels and increased motivation to participate in learning activities. Research tells us that pets can dramatically increase positive mood, ease social isolation and help children learn social skills and help young readers gain confidence.
So, next time on campus, come and meet our newest members of our ever growing community.
Head of Primary School