A group of Bialik students wowed their audience as they competed for a spot in the State level of Mikolot, an Australia-wide public speaking competition that gives the winner a $4500 contribution to an Israel trip of their choice.
Each student presented a 4-5 minute speech on the topic of: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Victor Frankl).
Not only were they to express their understanding of this concept, they also needed to interweave it into the Purim story and demonstrate a deeper understanding of Judaism in general. We were asked to appreciate that, despite the travails of Jewish history, we have always been able to choose how to respond to each event. We were challenged to consider the impact of alcohol, a misunderstood Purim tradition, and how it distorts free will; how we can choose to upstanders and so much more. Each member of the audience was left with deep thoughts to ponder and new appreciations of Purim.
The students then received a few minutes to prepare an impromptu speech on: What is the problem that most needs fixing in the world? Hate, restoring the dignity of humanity and a focus on first fixing oneself, were only some of the ideas eloquently articulated. Each student demonstrated a mastery of speech, the ability to organise complex and rich thoughts and the capacity to engage an audience and take them on a journey of ideas.
Bialik will now be sending these 5 successful students to the State finals, hoping that at least one will make it through to the nationals, where they will compete against the best of Australia’s Jewish Day school students.
By Bryan Conyer
Teacher of Jewish Studies
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