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Etgar Program

Etgar Program

Etgar means “To dare, to challenge”. Year 8 and 9 students work together on Friday afternoons for the whole year and choose an option that helps them develop their interests, skills and competencies in new and untested areas. The focus is to create opportunities for students to explore and improve ‘real life’ skills that they may have not identified before.

There are four strands – Physical, learning for Greater Knowledge, skills and creativity and Tikkun Olam. Students can choose a different elective each term. In total, they can experience 8 different elective options, allowing them to not only develop skills for the present and future, but to develop their resilience, perseverance, and responsibility. Last Friday we had a quick glance at some of the elective options, and here is what we found.

In these troubling times, what is better than hot challah with delicious fillings. For a worthy cause? Even better! Challah for hunger is ready to go. Every Friday after lunch, a group of students make scrumptious Challah to share around the school. They use tried-and-true Glick’s dough and add sweet, comforting fillings to make your Shabbat even sweeter. If you thought it could not get any better, it just did! All profits are donated to charity. “Etgar means to have fun, and to brighten minds,” says Joel Lewis, one of the head chefs behind Challah for Hunger.

Did you know that baby shark is one of the few songs which have the perfect beat to perform CPR to? The students taking part in the Etgar first aid program know all about this and more! They’re slowly becoming first-aid experts, Friday afternoon by Friday afternoon. “Etgar gives you real-life experiences that’ll help you in the future, and something to put on your resume,” says a first-aid student. After all, first aid can save lives! 

We’ve zoomed in on two amazing Etgar options, but there are so many more to come! Tune in next week to see a close-up of some more wonderful aspects of Etgar!

By Ashley B, Helena M and Ruth P


Jewish survival – it has always been a choice

Jewish survival – it has always been a choice

Every single Jewish victim of the Inquisition had already officially converted to Christianity; those refusing to convert being expelled from Spain shortly after the Inquisition began. Throughout almost every era in Jewish history, in almost every context, massive numbers of Jews have abandoned Judaism, and/or the Jewish people.

The Maccabi revolt was aimed at Hellenistic Jews as much as it was a war against the Syrian-Greek Empire. Every single Jewish victim of the Inquisition was a convert to Christianity, those refusing to convert having already been expelled from Spain. Moses Mendelsohn, the physical embodiment of the Jewish Enlightenment, did not have a single Jewish descendent and we all know that the great persecutors of Jews in our living memory, the Nazis and Soviets, counted amongst their victims no small number of Jews who hardly identified as Jewish.

The current rates of assimilation occurring throughout the Jewish world are not a break from Jewish history; they are the continuation of millennial old trends. When we speak about Jewish survival, we can only really speak about the survival of Judaism as maintained by a relatively small number of Jews who actively chose not to assimilate. Remaining Jewish is the conscious undertaking, not abandoning Judaism, which often requires little effort at all. At one point or another in a person’s life, staying Jewish necessitates a sacrifice. Sometimes that sacrifice is to remain or become the target of violence or discrimination. Sometimes that sacrifice is social or cultural. In other instances, it is financial.

Queen Esther faced her own personal test when she was informed of Haman’s intended annihilation of the Jews. Mordechai asked her to speak to King Ahasuerus, her husband, on her people’s behalf. This posed a problem for Esther. Esther (meaning hidden) was her non-Jewish or Persian name. Her true name was Hadassah, identifying her as a Jew and unknown to her husband. If unsuccessful, Esther’s appeal would certainly lead to her sharing the fate of other Jews, from which she was otherwise protected. Esther waivered when faced with that choice. Sensing her deliberation, Mordechai tells Esther, “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the King’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish.”

Mordechai predicts that Esther will experience what all Jews who have attempted to ‘escape’ Judaism eventually learn. It is not possible. It does not work. All that occurs is that individuals and their descendants are detached from all of the beauty that Judaism could have otherwise brought to their lives. Despite that loss, the world still considers assimilated or even converted Jews to be Jews, subjecting them to the same fate, but without the wisdom of Judaism to help make sense of their suffering. Ultimately, Esther responds to Mordechai by declaring that she will, “…go to the King, though it be contrary to the law; and if I am to perish, I shall perish.” This is the moment when Esther became a hero of Jewish history.

Natan Sharansky is perhaps one of the greatest living embodiments of Mordechai and Esther’s spirit. Born in Ukraine during the Soviet era, Sharansky was a chess prodigy and rising star in the Soviet scientific community. He could, in theory, have hoped to receive all of the privileges Soviet society had to offer (although in reality such opportunities were rarely, if ever, afforded to even the most assimilated Soviet Jews). Instead, he chose to sacrifice everything in favour of his Jewish identity and apply for an exit visa to immigrate to Israel. Not only was Sharansky’s visa application denied, he was arrested and spent nine years in Soviet prisons. When asked if giving up everything he lost for his Jewish identity was worth it, Sharansky famously answered, “When Jews abandon identity in pursuit of universal freedom, they end up with neither.” After a massive international human rights campaign, Sharansky was released from prison and raised a family in Israel, serving as a government minister multiple times, as deputy prime minister and Executive of the Jewish Agency. Whilst the Soviet Union, one of the greatest institutional persecutors of Jews and their identity in the modern era is no more, Sharansky survives as a Jew with his head held high.

If we, like Esther and Natan Sharansky, realise that the best things in life are worth sacrificing for, that they are worth prioritising, our Judaism will not feel like a burden that limits our lives, but rather the flame at the centre that makes our lives worth living. 

Zachary Gomo
Director of Jewish Life


The Principal’s welcome

Shalom Kehilla,

Summer has been a great time to be in Melbourne, and many of us have enjoyed a Staycation whilst other successfully navigated the travel restrictions over the summer. With great weather, reduced traffic and a holiday vibe, we have all been enjoying a well-earned break whilst preparing for an exciting year.

With the ELC having some exciting work planned over the next year – not least a rain garden, a new seated entrance area and a refurbished kinder play area, as well as the beginning of the scoping for a new Science and Technology provision, this is an exciting year as we enter 2021 with renewed positivity and confidence.

Last week was Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees (in Hebrew it isראש השנה לאילנות Rosh HaShanah La’llanot). As a Culture of Thinking, and as a school whose early years are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, we describe our environment as our ‘third teacher’.

I am delighted to introduce three new senior leadership roles to the community.

  • Dan Sztrajt has transitioned from Director of Jewish Life to Assistant Principal (Pastoral Care and Head of Middle School). Dan will be reviewing the pastoral provision within the College and planning for an emotionally healthy future for all of the Bialik family.
  • Michaela Strang joins us from Xavier College as Director of Learning. Michaela will be reviewing the Culture of Thinking within the College and planning the next stage of our groundbreaking academic and curricular journey.
  • Zach Gomo’s previous role of Head of Jewish Studies will be undertaken by Dr Bryan Conyer. Zach will be reviewing the leading and reviewing the Jewish Life of the College.  

With Information Evenings in full swing this week and a campus full of busy and active learning, it has been a wonderful start to the year.


Jeremy Stowe-Lindner


Mazel Tov to our Class of 2020!

Shalom Kehilla
I am delighted to share with you the outstanding results of the Class of 2020. We are proud of every single member of our wonderful graduating cohort. Their achievements reflect their hard work, the support of their parents and the dedication of their teachers in every year level of the College.
With this inspiring set of results that in each of the previous 10 years would place us in the very top echelons of the State, our Class of 2020 rose to the challenge of a particularly difficult year. With confidence, menschlichkeit and resilience, they can Step Forth With Courage into the world.
Have a healthy, safe and enjoyable Summer,
Jeremy Stowe-Lindner


Bialik Junior Masterchef

Mazeltov to Mila F, Yr 3 and Alexia S, Yr 2 for winning Bialik Junior Masterchef 2020!

The Judges could not decide on only one meal for the Shuk Menu, so they have picked 3 Shuk dishes! These will not be on the menu for one week as promised, but starting the new year in 2021, they will be available throughout the whole of Term 1!

The three dishes chosen for the Shuk were: 

  • Alexia S – Giant Anzac Cookies
  • Mila F – Chocolate Cookie Balls/Kadorei shokolad
  • Dalia B – Banana Choc Pops

The Top 5 overall winners of the Competition (in alpha order):

  • Dalia B (Yr 3)
  • Mila F (Yr 3)
  • Max & Zoe R (Yr 4 & 3)
  • Alexia S (Yr 2)
  • Ella S (Yr 3)

These winners will each receive a $20 voucher to the Shuk

Congratulations to the following contestants for participating all the way through:
Jack B (Yr 4), Chloe & Dylan B (Yrs 3 & Prep), Abbie D (Yr 3), Reuben L (Yr 4), Amy J (Yr 3), Daniel K (Yr 5), Alicia M (Yr 3), Jesse S (Yr 4), Hazel and Zadie W (Yrs 4 & 2).
They will each receive a $10 voucher to be used at the Shuk.

House Points

House points will be awarded to the following:

  • Weizmann 590
  • Herzl 340
  • Szold 240

Top 5

Top 5 from each of the Rounds below:

Finals Round
Dalia & Alexia (tied for first place), then in alphabetical order: Mila F, Zohar G, Reuben L, Max & Zoe R

Round 4
Calzone challenge
Max & Zoe (1st place), then in alphabetical order: Mila F, Zohar G, Daniel K, Alexia S, Ella S

Round 3
Travel the World
Alexia S (1st place), then in alphabetical order: Dalia B, Mila F, Max & Zoe R, Jesse S, Ella S

Round 2
Mystery Box
Mila F (1st), then in alphabetical order: Chloe & Dylan B, Daniel K, Max & Zoe R, Alexia S

Round 1
Signature Round, not scored.

Thank you

A very big thank you to the amazing Judges involved in this comp, they really were so dedicated and took the competition very seriously. Thank you to Deb & Nat from the Shuk; Fay from Kitchen Garden and Ronit from the ELC Kitchen.

The BCPA is preparing a video of the competition for families to watch and enjoy over the holidays.

Throughout the year Nat and Deb may shout-out to the other contestants who have inspired them.

Keep a lookout for your name on the Shuk menu!


2020 Gone to the Dogs…

This year we have all experienced life changing events that have affected the way we socialise, learn and deal with life’s new paradigms. We learnt how to wash our hands while singing ‘happy birthday,’ how to wear a face mask and how to socialise while not being in close proximity to other people.

But our lessons of this year have gone well beyond those imposed on us through Covid. At the start of this year, we were so fortunate to be in a partnership program with Dogs for Life and La Trobe University, that saw 5 amazing dogs enrol in our College in order for them to benefit from our incredible learning provision. These service animals were welcomed onto the campus so that we could assist in their training, in the hope they will be given to a returned soldier.

The daily training of the dogs was mutually beneficial for staff and students. The truth is that in this crazy Covid year, these dogs provided a welcome distraction and focus for everyone on campus. In particular Pluto, the Primary school dog, an A+ student graduating, in my opinion, ‘summa cum laude,’ gave us so much in return. As he trotted into the zones, sat quietly in classrooms, or kept a watchful eye on the students as they played, Pluto brought a sense of calm to those who were more anxious, helped improve physical and social well-being of our students, helped others gain confidence and dramatically increased the positive mood in the school.

While our dogs will be moving to their new homes in the New Year, they will always be remembered for the joy they brought to us. As the Service Dog program comes to an end we are thrilled that next year we will have our very own resident dog in the Primary school to fulfil so many positive benefits that we know our four-legged friends can provide.


Yom Manhigut

Friday 20 November

Yom Manhigut was a day full of activities, excitement and fun. However this year, as we know, our normal looks somewhat different. Via Zoom MP Josh Burns started the day sharing with us his personal story of becoming a leader.  Our Principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner facilitated this session and we thank both leaders for giving up time from their busy day to address the leaders of tomorrow.  Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, our neuroscientist in residence, practically demonstrated plasticity of our brain through a fun game and a captivating talk. Even though Jared was on video, his charismatic presence was felt in the room as if he was with us in person.  The main message from Karen Friede was T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Achieves More. Karen also spoke about the five main leadership skills we value here at Bialik which are:

  • 1. Speak Up
  • 2. Step Up
  • 3. Have a Go
  • 4. Think Team
  • 5. Show the Way

Our Year 4 teachers, together with members of the Informal team, organized and ran activities that focused on Manhigut skills such as, team building, responsibility, event organisation and knowing your own strengths. A detailed explanation of the six portfolios were provided, the portfolio include;

  • Yahadut V’tziyonoy – Jewish Life and Zionism
  • Omanuyot – The Arts
  • Tarbut – School Culture
  • Madaim – Science & Sustainability
  • Tikshoret – Media
  • Tkasim – Assembly

Students nominated their four preferred portfolio and are now eagerly awaiting the outcome as to which portfolio they will be assigned in 2021.

However, no event is complete without yummy food. Our Year 4s enjoyed a BBQ lunch and in the afternoon had a chance to schmooze (socialise) with friends, and enjoy an icy pole on such a hot day.  We concluded the day with a Year 4 Kabbalat Shabbat.

Stay tuned.

Dalia Gurfinkel
Manhigut Co-ordinator


Caring for our students

Written by Daphne Gaddie, Head of Early Learning Centre (ELC)

“Connecting the brain to the rest of the body: early childhood development and lifelong health are deeply intertwined.”

This is a statement from the publication titled ‘Centre on The Developing Child – Harvard University’, which goes on to say that “adult-child relationships, other early experiences, and environmental exposures influence child well-being. An increasing number of policies and programs around the world now reflect that understanding by supporting children’s early learning and nutrition to improve their readiness to succeed in school. As scientific knowledge continues to grow, we also know more clearly than ever how the conditions and environments in which children develop affect lifelong health as well as educational achievement.”

This is a responsibility that is felt deeply by all those in early childhood education.

The Early Years Learning Framework recognises that children’s learning is dynamic, complex, and holistic. Physical, social, emotional, personal, spiritual, creative, cognitive and linguistic aspects of learning are all intricately interwoven and interrelated.

Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia) knew that education is among the most precious rights of all children, a common good-but not just any education-it has to be an education based on relationships; an education that at its very essence gives value to every child’s right to be respected and valued as a unique individual.

Bialik is unique in that it has children from the ages of 3 months to 18 years on one campus. We have sustained focussed leadership and accountability. Together with its sports centre, it is a hub that supports a community.
The kitchen in the Early Learning Centre (ELC) provides nutritious food to creche and kinder children and the Shuk provides food to all the other children and staff and has offered prepared meals to the wider community during the Covid-19 lockdown; all catering to our health and wellbeing.

Our team of psychologists, counsellors and all other well trained ancillary professionals work with children and adults supporting all members of our community.

2020 has been a challenging year globally and in Melbourne we have experienced a very long period of lockdown. As our teams of teachers prepared for online digital teaching, they continued to collaborate and explore ways to connect with children and families and to provide rich learning for the children.

Each year the ELC produces a journal “Windows into Children’s Thinking” and it is supported by an exhibition; a display of documentation of children’s learning throughout the year. These are based always on an overarching big idea and in 2020 this was “Crossing Boundaries.” This year the exhibition will not go ahead, however the journal is in its final stages before printing. It will focus not just on children’s learning but also on the reflections of teachers during this very challenging time.


Footy Colours day

This Saturday is the AFL grand final and to celebrate this exciting event, on Thursday 22 October, Bialik is celebrating Footy Colours Day! Students were given the chance to wear their favourite footy jerseys, scarfs and beanies to show pride for their footy team.

Each year on the day before the public holiday, the Fight Cancer Foundation holds a national campaign, Footy Colours Day, which aims to raise money and support kids with cancer. Even in the exciting moments, it is important to remember those who need our support and what better way to do that than to get involved in this amazing day! Students were asked to bring a gold coin donation to participate in the day, with all proceeds going to the Fight Cancer Foundation.


Prep and Year 1s enjoy Family Maths Games

On Thursday 8 October, we welcomed over forty students and families to our Prep and Year 1 Family Maths Games Evening on Microsoft Teams. Maths Games have formed the basis of many meaningful learning experiences throughout Digital Bialik. It was wonderful to celebrate this learning as a school community and listen to students as they shared their strategic thinking about each game. All games from the evening can be accessed here to continue the learning at home.