The beginning of Term 2 has been a time of intense activity at Yavneh. The staff have not only maintained the rigour in learning for students in their regular lessons, but they have been committed to providing outstanding learning experiences engaging students with key points in Jewish history, honouring those who have gone before us, celebrating being Jewish and making significant contributions to community events.
Our Year 10 students were outstanding Yavneh ambassadors when as a cohort they attended the JCCV Yom HaShoah Commemorative Service at Monash. Yavneh was the largest school contingent in the audience with a further seventeen students across primary and secondary school participating in the formal proceedings on stage either in choral performances or speaking. It was also wonderful to see so many recent Yavneh graduates in the audience.
At Yavneh the following day, the Primary and Secondary Schools hosted their own commemorative service for Yom HaShoah. followed by exceptional learning programs in the secondary school for our older students, the details of which you no doubt read about in last week’s Kesher. Holocaust survivors participating in the service is a key element in deepening students’ understanding of the Holocaust. We thank the survivors for their continued support of our students.
One of our survivors made the following comment about the service and activities:
I was really impressed by the College and the manner in which Yom HaShoah was commemorated. I was particularly impressed by the well organised assembly and was moved by the choir performance. Following the assembly, I spoke with the Year 10’s who were attentive and asked good questions.
The following day at the secondary assembly, we recognised ANZAC Day with the playing of the last post and delivering the famous lines from Binyon’s “For the Fallen”.
To commemorate Yom HaZikaron, our Hesder and Sherut team (Tzevet) constructed an outstanding exhibition dedicated to celebrating the life of Eyal Yifrah, one of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered in 2014. These leaders together with our Rosh Kollel, Rav Asulin shared personal stories of individuals who have given their lives protecting the Jewish People.
Connecting students to these events is both challenging and emotionally charged. Our warmest thanks to the Hesder boys and Sherut girls on providing our students and community with the opportunity to engage in such a thought-provoking experience.
Our talented music students also added some poignant songs and prose that resonate loudly and create a sense of connectedness with our people in Israel.
On Tuesday evening our Year 10 students displayed exemplary behaviour as ambassadors for Leibler Yavneh College at the Zionism Victoria Yom HaZikaron Commemorative Service held at Robert Blackwood Hall. This was followed by primary and secondary assemblies at Yavneh on Wednesday to recognise this important occasion. The secondary service was an especially moving event. Rabbi Asulin spoke about the generational loss his family has suffered in their service in the IDF but the unwavering commitment they maintain to defending Israel. Students sang, prayers were delivered, and the Israeli flag was lowered and raised again. Early Wednesday evening a number of students and staff represented Yavneh at the Mizrachi Tekes Ma’avar with Rabbi Cowen delivering the key note address and later that evening the sombre mood or
Yom HaZikaron made way for the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha’Atzmaut beginning with a dance party for secondary students in Lamm Hall with over 100 students in attendance.
On Thursday morning we awoke to a wild and windy day in Elsternwick, but this did not dampen the spirits of our students and staff. Leibler Yavneh College became a sea of blue and white with wide smiles on participants’ faces. We began the day engaging in prayer, followed by the Elsternwick students welcoming the Senior Kinder children and twice as many parents, grandparents and friends as last year to the Tekes and famous Year 6 Flag Dance.
In her address, recent old scholar and College Captain (2017), Amira Waller, noted:
Being in Melbourne, I cannot think of a better place to celebrate and be joyful than here at Yavneh. Yom Ha’atzmaut at school was always a highlight of the year whether it was the flag dance, the musical Hallel, or merely walking through the halls adorned with Israeli flags and seeing everyone dressed in blue and white. The buzz and happiness of Yom Ha’atzmaut is truly felt today at Yavneh. I feel lucky to have been able to celebrate here with you all today, the second-best place to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, outside of Israel.
We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dance (and to warm up) in celebrating Israel’s 71st birthday and then the students headed off to participate in learning activities. Our Year 6 – 12 students went hiking, a traditional Israeli way to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut and during their lunch break, in multi-aged groups, they discussed the challenge of navigating two homelands in light of the teachings of Rav Kook. Back at Elsternwick the primary students were moving through an amazing array of activities including food preparation in a Kibbutz, Krav Maga and a Kahoot about Israel and at our ELC children had their own Tekes, singing songs and dancing around the large Israeli flag. The children also enjoyed the falafel and Israeli salad they made and the cake that they baked and iced in the Israeli flag.
That evening the following email was sent from a secondary student to our Jewish Life Team:
I just wanted to personally thank you guys for putting on such an amazing day today. I really connected to the day and really enjoyed every aspect. The davening was spiritual, the Tekkes was very nice and the hikes were fantastic. I think that I speak for the students of Yavneh when I say thank you for everything that you have done. We really appreciate all of the behind the scenes work that goes in and we think that it was worth it. So again, a very big thank you!
We’re on a mission
Two of Leibler Yavneh College’s five missions is to play a central role in the personal development of its students, nurturing them to be:
- Knowledgeable and passionate about Yahadut and Zionism
- Committed Australians, aware of and loyal to their communal, civic and personal responsibilities
During the past ten days especially, our students have been engaged in profound learning experiences which serve these two missions. Not only have our students fully participated in the excellent school-based activities organised by our staff, but they have also given generously of their time to perform at and/or participate in communal events.
Last week I had a family of four enrol their children into our college to commence with us in 2020. When I asked them ‘why Yavneh?’ the parents said that one of the key drivers is what they hear and see of our graduates in the wider community. They want their children to grow up to be mensches and that is what they see in Yavneh graduates!
The experiences our students have had in the last ten days contribute to those special qualities, so evident in students who are educated at Yavneh.
Article by Principal, Cherylyn Skewes