Jewish Life at Bialik is interwoven into every facet of the school, whether on camp, in the classroom or at assemblies.
The MIFGASH, Hebrew for “Meeting Place” (Centre for Jewish Life), beats like the heart of Bialik, providing a dynamic experiential and interactive environment in which the Jewish, Zionist and personal identity of our students can grow and develop. This is a place where everyone belongs and is made to feel at home. Our Informal Jewish Educators run experiential, values-based lessons and interactive learning programs focusing on a range of themes from student leadership and personal development to our connection with modern day Israel.
Shabbatonim, festivals and commemorations receive special attention at Bialik. The journey of exploration begins with model Kabbalat Shabbat in the ELC, which developes right into Primary School. By upper Primary and into Middle School our students experience first-hand a genuine Shabbat experience through our Shabbatonim (weekend retreats). Beyond this, students participate in and lead our assemblies to mark important days in the Jewish calendar. Our Year 10 Hadracha (Leadership) Program sees festivals come alive, as our more senior students mentor and teach our younger students through these significant days and events.
All Year 7 students participate in the year-long B’NEI MITZVAH program, which emphasises community responsibility and social action and culminates in a combined B’nei Mitzvah ceremony. Bar-and Bat-Mitzvah lessons are offered free of charge as part of the College’s Jewish Studies’ program.
The Jewish Studies curriculum embraces cross-communal narratives and ethical teachings of the Torah and emphasizes Jewish values like Tikkun Olam (‘healing the world’) and Chessed (kindness) throughout the College. The three principles of Educate, Participate and Donate are central to the ongoing activities which mark the Jewish Life programs. Jewish Studies at Bialik develops the skills, knowledge and values essential for students to become active members across our Jewish community
At both Year 11 and Year 12 levels, students may enrol for ELECTIVE and SPECIALIST AREAS OF JEWISH STUDIES such as Hebrew, Global Politics (which focuses on modern Israel studies) and Religion and Society.
Bialik College enjoys an ongoing and collaborative relationship with the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, focusing on areas of professional and curriculum development.
Since its earliest days, Bialik’s mantra for teaching Hebrew has been Ivrit B’Ivrit – or Hebrew in Hebrew. Learning Hebrew is an immersive experience for students and is an essential part of the curriculum from the ELC up to Year 8, with a substantial number of students continuing to study Hebrew for their VCE. Bialik boasts an outstanding tradition of regularly obtaining the state’s top VCE Hebrew results and the highest number of graduates of any school undertaking Hebrew studies in VCE.
At Bialik, Hebrew is believed to be the living, breathing language of the Jewish people and it can be heard around the campus regularly. Every ELC classroom has a Hebrew speaking educator and in the Primary School, Hebrew words and conversation are introduced into daily College life, a complement to the comprehensive formal curriculum. An opt-in, bilingual Hebrew Immersion program operates in Years 4 and 5 at Primary School level. In Middle School our Heb-J program allows students to elect to undertake additional classes taught in Hebrew beyond their regular Hebrew lessons. Learning Hebrew is optional from Year 9 onwards where students are able to select from a range of Hebrew and Israel themed subject choices as their studies move into the Senior School.
Israel Immersion Experience – Chavayah
In another innovation for Jewish schools in Australia, Bialik has reacted proactively to the Australian Government’s challenging White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century, by introducing a China component to the Year 10 students Chavayah trip to Israel. Each year, Bialik ensures that its entire Year 10 cohort, regardless of ability to pay, can travel to Israel for a 6-week immersion experience in Israeli society. There they attend Alexander Muss High School which is chosen because of its healthy pluralist approach, which mirrors Bialik’s inclusive cross-communality. There, students get to experience the daily lives of normal Israelis whilst appreciating the historical and biblical connections to Israel. Now, the students will spend a week in China en route to Israel, where they will explore connections between Israel, China and Australia from many perspectives including international business, economic partnerships, and technological cooperation. They will have the opportunity of interacting with ordinary Chinese workers and students ‘from the factory to the boardroom’ as well as meet modern-day entrepreneurs. They will gain an understanding not only of the possibilities offered by a more prosperous, sustainable and interconnected world, but also the profoundly Jewish connection which explores Shanghai’s distinctive Jewish past, including its role in providing a sanctuary for Jews escaping the Shoah – many of whom finally found refuge in Melbourne. Bialik views the improved program as a very exciting opportunities to broaden students’ minds and experiences and help prepare them for a future in which China and Asia, the fastest growing region on earth, play a central role.