Grade 3 -Group 1
First: Zev Rauchwerger
Second: Yishai Shapiro
Third: Aharon Tsaidi
Grade 3 -Group 2
First: Asher Bernstein-Dressler
Second: Baila Mendelson
Third: Emma Romm
Grade 4 - Group 1
First: Leah Klein
Second: Lana Ephstein
Third: Belle Dubinsky
Grade 4 - Group 2
First: Shiya Green
Second: Aimee Levy
Third: Melissa Dubinsky
First: Joshua Brown
Second: Gila Zians
Third: Kol Mendelson
First: Ma'ayan Kirat
Second: Dylan Ginsberg
Third: Yali Levgoren
First: Brandon Abramowitz
Second: Michael Lebedev
First: Elle Ohayon
Second: Jarred Brown
Third: Emet Mendelson
DING DONG DING DONG
Oh hi there - I am so sorry - Am I interrupting your dinner? Sorry about that.
I am just in the neighbourhood talking to people about the upcoming election. OH! You didn’t know there was an election coming up? Well - Well I am your local canvasser - why don’t we talk about what issues are important to you in the coming election?
Oh, and by the way - do you mind if I put a sign on your lawn?
Hi, my name is Kol and I am here to talk to you about how voting is actually of vital importance to Judaism.
I know, I know - I have heard not to ever EVER speak about religion and politics with strangers - and here I am about to talk to you about both - AT THE SAME TIME!
How in the world are Judaism and politics linked - you ask? Well I am here to tell you all about it. The politics of today’s world are enough to make you want to bury your head in a giant pile of latkes and forget about it.
In Pikei Avot - the Ethics of our fathers - Rabbi Hillel teaches us:"Al tifrot min hatzibur, Do not separate yourself from the community" . This means that we cannot lose ourselves in our own lives - that we must be actively engaged in the issues that affect our community. Think that politics are irreleavant to your life as a Jew? Think again.
The Talmud teaches us that "A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted" . This tells us that it our role as jews to be acitvely involved in chosing the leaders in our community.
Do you remember the story of Bezalel? He was the genius who was so talented that he was able to build a home for God himself. That;s right ! This guy Bult both the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant!! That’s about as important as in gets in our books! But guess what - even this guy could not do anything without the approval of the Jewish community. The Torah reminds us that Bezalel could build the Tabernacle only with the community's approval.
Don't you see? The Talmud is basically telling us that we have to become involved.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, North American Jews have been vfighting prejudice and discrimination, and have partiiated in the civil rights movement, the labor rights movement, and the women's rights movement.
Did you know that the president of the American Jewish Congress, marched In washington with Doctor Martin Luther King? That's right, he was there for the I HAVE A DREAM speech. Now he also had a speech – it wasn't QUITE as well known but he had some pretty cool things to say to. He spoke to thousands of people saying that the Jewish experience of being slaves in Egypt and being murdered for their faith makes us committed to rising up against oppression when we see it. He said we Jews have to rise up against injustice when we see it.
Look around. What issues injustices do you see in the world today Is it a new playground for your neighbourhood? Is it homelessness? Anti-semitism? How about the LRT? Everyday there are ways for you to become engaged in your community. Thousands of years of our history have prepared you to take an active role in your community - so do it!
Get ready to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Think about it ! Because you never know when I will be knocking on your door - asking what issues are important to you and how you want to be involved in your community.
Ladiiiiiiiiiiiiies and G-E-N-T-L-E-M-E-N, Boys and Girls. Today, right here in this magnificent synagogue, right before your very eyes, a fabulous array of acts have been assembled to dazzle and delight you. You’ve been invited to jest with our jaunty juniors … yak with youngsters in yarmulkas ...marvel at magnificent minions…
Get ready to shout bravo at these brave boys and girls ….. for the most amazing speeches of the universe await you. All this and more before the day is out. And the most amazing thing of all is, entrance is bupkus. That's right folks, you don't pay a cent to get in. So step RIGHT up, the show is about to begin.
Hello! My name is Emet and can you take a wild guess about what i’m going to talk to you about, (some delay) if you haven't guessed it yet- i am going to talk about jewish circuses. Jewish circus you say? There were no Jewish circuses ! Aha - but that is where you are wrong, my friends. There have been both Jewish circuses and Jews in circuses.
“Circus” means circle in Latin, the history of the circus can be traced back to the huge, circle-shaped amphitheaters throughout the Roman Empire. If you’re thinking Galdiotors right now - you nailed it! The Circus Maximus, in Rome, held chariot races and gladiator fights for over 1,000 years. But how is Jewish history related to Gladiators? A lot of Jews were taken as slaves by the Romans. These Jews were forced into becoming gladiators. Shimon ben Lakish was one of the most famous of these jewish gladiators.
Turns out this guy was blessed with a huge size, little fear and had no other way of supporting himself so he fought in gladiator battles. That is until Rabbi Yochanan - one of the leading rabbis of the time bumped into him while he was bathing and told him: "Thy strength would be more appropriate for studying the Law.’
So the story goes that Shimon the gladiator turned his life around, and became Shimon the scholar instead. In fact, his legal opinions and decisions are quoted in the Talmud. I mean - of course we still quote this guy because - really - you don’t want to contradict a gladiator… now would you? What about the name Moyshe Shtern? Does that one ring a bell? Well it would if you lived in the 19th century in Poland. Moyshe went by his stage name “Takhra Bey” and pierced his face and body with needles, hanging weights from them to the delight of circus goers. OUCH!
Now that we’re on the topic of cirucs Moyshes - ever hear of Moyshe Fayershteyn? He would seem to swallow animals, then produce them, amazing the crowds. I know, disgusting but cool.
What about Zishe Breitbart? He performed in the 20s as a circus strongman. Known to his non-Jewish fans as “the strongest man in the world,” his Jewish fans called him “Shimmy ha-Gabur” (Samson the Mighty). Sounds like another Jew you probably wouldn’t want to mess with.
So you see, from the begining, Jews were part of the circus world. Did you know that many Jews hid as Circus performers during the Holocaust? They worked as trick riders and clowns - travelling in Germany in places the Nazis didn’t think to look for them.
Circuses have been in Jewish families for centuries. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were owned by the Feld family for nearly 50 years. The Moscow Circus and the Big Apple Circus were owned and operated by Jews. And how could we forget our very own Cirque du Solé? That’s right - it was founded by Jewish entertainment businessman Mitch Garber. Jews and circuses go way back. But how have circuses shaped our Jewish identity? Well, the point of the circus was to entertain and in case you haven’t noticed - there’s still a few Jews In the entertainment industry!
Circuses also tried to take you away from your everyday troubles. When you heard the music: (do the music thing) - you were able to forget your problems. In this way, clowns continue to do the work that circuses used to do. Clowns got into children’s hospitals and make kids forget about being sick for a while. And Guess what? There is only one university in the world that offers a degree is medical clowning. Any guesses? That’s right. Haifa University.
So the next time someone asks you if you were raised in a circus - you can tell them - well actually… funny thing about that...
Thanks for listening.
Grade 8. Ryerson Middle School
Hello my name is Hannah. I was born in Toronto, but for most of my life I’ve lived in Kitchener. I’m in third grade and I take a bus go to the HHA. Today I am here to talk about my favorite holiday, Shabbat. What does Shabbat mean for you? For me, it is a religious holiday, a special time with my family, and a time when I go to my shul and spend time with my friends and Hashem. Let me tell you more about it…
First, Shabbat is a holiday that we get to experience every week of the year. It starts on Friday evening and ends Saturday evening. It is Hashem’s gift of rest to us as Jews, so we don’t have to work or go to school. For example, we don’t drive a car or ride a school bus, we don’t colour or write or erase, we don’t play musical instruments, and we don’t use phones or computers or watch TV. But, that doesn’t mean that Shabbat is boring. FYI, Shabbat is a time that is very special.
In my home things are different on Shabbat compared to the rest of the week. In my house on Shabbat, I always light the candles with my mom, dad, and little sister. That’s how my family welcomes Shabbat.
We always have an extra nice dinner with challah and grape juice. In the middle of the meal, I read the parsha sheet from my school. After, my family has fun answering my parsha questions.
Shabbat is a time when I go to shul. The shul I go to - Beth Jacob congregation in Kitchener - is about a forty minute walk from my home. We all get dressed up to go to shul. When we get there, my dad leads children’s davening. At the end of the bigger service, kids go up on the bimah and get to do some prayers . My favorite ones are Ein Keloheinu and Anim Zemirot . Then, after the service, we have Kiddush and a big meal with the whole congregation.
Usually, when services are done, my friends from the shul and their parents go to someone’s home. This is almost always the home of Eli and Elie Wolfe, who also send their children to our school. We scooter, play with Lego, and sometimes build forts. We have lots of snacks too, like candy, chips, and chocolate. Our parents also have fun talking and playing games together.
A day of rest, special time with my family and friends, going to shul - for all of these reasons, that’s why Shabbat is my favorite Jewish holiday. Maybe these are also some reasons why you like Shabbat too. Thank you for listening.
Grade 3, Hamilton Hebrew Academy
Hi My name is Lana, I’m in Grade 4, from the HHA.
I’m Just a Kid, Am I too Young for Mitzvot?
To love for example my mom, to respect her all what she is doing for my brother and myself, we are doing our Mitzvot in the family to help, right?
Even as a child, we have relationship with people in our lives, relationship with Hashem. Showing our love and caring for people is not only with words, but with deeds and actions, like my little brother Ethan is saying, we need to show the action to be the super heroes. We show actions by doing things, it can be helping at home with cleaning, or taking the garbage.
At the corner of the road when we go Toronto, there is a man standing there, my brother and myself brought him food, clothes and yes half of my money, which was $20, that was a Mitzva, that we felt in our heart to do.
Doing all these mitzvot for family, friends, people in the community is actually rewarding and my brother and myself feel proud doing that, so, it should be easy and obvious to do it for Hashem that loves us so much, that He is there to listen to all my prayers and wishes. Hashem is there for me to listen me nagging, being annoying, because I ask so much, so why AM I too little or too young to show my love and care for Hashem in our actions, doing the mitzvoth.
I love making Challah with mommy, I love lighting candles on Friday, I love going to Shul on Saturday not using the car but actually walking and keeping my Shabbat, and we talk and laugh, it’s our time together. I love davening every night and read my Tehilim. Yes I am a child, yes I AM too young, but I Am not too young to show love, I Am not too young to pray and ask and wish, I Am not too young to do my Mitzvot!
Hashem is patient, Hashem knows my heart, I care, love and honor Him with the Mitzvot as much as I can. And like with our parents that don’t expect us to do everything in the house, right mommy?? Right daddy?? Otherwise, our parents can take a break from life and run to the beaches in Israel. Hashem wants us to learn and give because by giving that’s a gift as well for us, so let’s give with Mitzvot, With love to Hashem, that is part of being Jewish and I am proud of that!
Thank you for listening to my speech!
Grade 4, Hamilton Hebrew Academy
Good afternoon everyone, my name is Ma'ayan and I would like to ask you a question, is there somebody that you have never met, that you wish you could have a conversation with?
I wish I could have a conversation with my great grandmother, Savta Esther. I have been told that I am a lot like her; she was good at math and so am I, she loved Israel and so do I, she had a spicy personality and so do I, family was the most important thing to her and sure is to me too!
Savta Esther overcame many obstacles in her life. I think the most difficult thing she survived was the Holocaust. She was only 16 when she was in Auschwitz where she lost her family, except one brother. During the Holocaust, prisoners were stripped of their identity, some were tattooed with numbers on their forearm. Savta Esther was A-13142, after the Holocaust that number was a constant reminder that she was strong and could overcome almost anything. She was never afraid to talk about it, in fact, she was always willing to answer questions and tell stories. If she was here today I would have so many questions to ask her.
After the Holocaust she returned to her home town in Czecholslovakia (check ol slo va kia), where she met my great grandfather, Saba Lipa. They eventually moved to Israel where they started their family of four sons, one of which is my grandfather, Saba Moshe. My great grandparents raised their family on a Moshav where they could freely be Jewish. In 1961, they decided to leave Israel and make their way across the Atlantic Ocean for Hamilton, where Savta’s brother lived. I would want to ask her questions about this journey: what was the ship like, how did her children react, was she sad to be leaving Israel...and so many more.
Savta Esther and her family became part of the Hamilton Jewish community, they planted roots in this city that my family still calls home. She spent many years taking care of her kids and her grandkids. She always had time for her family, she often had all twelve grandchildren sleep over at once, some say that was crazy, but she always loved it. Being Jewish was part of her daily life, and she made sure that her family learned the traditions and even some of her recipes like suvganyot and hamantashen. One day, I hope to make them too.
After all the difficult things in her life, she ended up with cancer. After fighting for over a year, she passed away. My mom was pregnant with me when she passed away; when I was born my mom knew right away that her Savta's name should passed on to me. Although I have so many questions that I would have loved to ask her, I am satisfied with the stories I have. My name isn't just Ma'ayan, it is Ma'ayan Esther. If Savta Esther wasn't strong throughout the years, I wouldn't be standing here today. thank-you
Grade 6, Sir William Osler
Hi my name is Ari and today I will be talking about a famous person who is one of my favourite jewish artists, Shel Silverstein. Shel Silverstein is a jewish artist who made two famous books named the giving tree and where the sidewalk ends. The book Where The Sidewalk Ends is a poem book that has poems about weird things like where the sidewalk ends or one like a giraffe in a half. This book is a book that not many people have and it is a hardcover book that I personally have at my house.
At the year of 1953 he joined the army. He went to Japan and Korea and in 1955 his book got published named Take Ten. The hardcover is about 119.99 dollars and it was originally Take Ten but it changed to Grab Your Socks. If you're wondering how he got his interest in art i'll tell you because I was wondering too. He got his interest in art at the year 1944 because he wanted to do baseball but he dropped his interest in doing baseball so he started to do art and cartoons. He was born in 1930 and he is from Chicago Illinois and has a sister named Peggy Myers.
He died when he was 68 and if he was still alive he would be 88 now in 2018 and his sister was born in 1947 and died last year in 2017. They had a dad named Nathan Silverstein that was born in 1890 and died at the year of 1972. I think he was perhaps influenced by an author that wrote irony and decided to write humour when he grows up and to write poems with humour. Now I would like to end my speech off with a poem that Shel Silverstein wrote from the book where the sidewalk ends and it is called listen to the Mustn’ts, and it goes like this:
Listen to the mustn’ts, child
Listen to the don’ts
Listen to the shouldn’ts
The impossible, the won’ts
Listen to the never haves
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
Thank you for coming to my jewish speech.
When I heard about this event I thought to myself, “This sounds interesting, a speech contest about anything related to judaism!”.
So I am going to talk about famous Jewish people. There are many famous jewish stars that I find interesting. This includes the actor Adam Sandler, Drake, and the all famous Maroon five singer, Adam Levine. There are a lot of famous Jewish people that I can talk about but there was one person that came to my mind first as famous for me.
Now you may think that “If i don’t know someone, they’re not famous” but this person is famous for me and some other people too. His name is Noam Gershony. This man recently came to Shaarei Beth El in Oakville and it was a pleasure to have him up on the bima telling his personal story. I don’t think he’ll mind so I’m going to share it also. In the army, he was an apache helicopter pilot and had a mission to support ground troops so he was on his way. They had to fly really close together and ended up crashing into each other. They were 6,000 feet in the air when it happened and the thought was that no one survived. Only Noam was found alive and just has trouble now with walking.
Later in his life, he started to find a passion for tennis and ended up going to the Olympics. At the end of his first Olympics, he dominated and won gold. He was the first israeli to win a gold medal in paralympic tennis.
That’s Noam Gershonys story but how about somebody who you might know. How about… oh! The main actress in one of my favourite movies Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot is a israeli actress that served 2 years in the army! She was born on April 30, 1985. She has 2 kids named Maya Versano and Alma Versano. She has been in many movies like 4 of the Fast and Furious movies, Keeping up with the Joneses, Ralph breaks the internet and many more. As you know she is jewish and has an israeli accent so for every one of those movies, she had to practice it in a American accent and some other accents but she got through it and now she’s a pro. The achievement of Wonder Woman took the world by surprise and in my opinion there will be many more Jewish but also israeli people that also take the world by surprise!
Hello judges, parents and fellow contestants. My name is Benjamin Farkash, and my topic is how my Israeli grandfather got out of the war. I got back from Italy in September and I will be telling you about why Italy is a special place for our family. My Saba got out of Bratislava, Slovakia with his mother in World War 2.
He went on a boat named the Pentcho. It was a river boat, and it was not for the ocean, and they crammed 500 people onto it, 100 more than they were supposed to. It went along the Danube river which leads to the Black Sea. There, they were supposed to meet another boat that was good for the Mediterranean.
It was very crowded on the boat. They slept on wooden planks only 60cm wide. When one person wanted to roll over they all had to. It was supposed to take only a few weeks to get to the Black sea, but the Pentcho took 6 months to pass the Danube and When they reached the Black Sea there was no ship waiting for them.
They went on to the Black sea and the Mediterranean on the Pentcho. The sea mines did not explode because the Pentcho was too shallow. The boiler exploded because it was using salt water and it was supposed to use fresh water. The Pentcho drifted until it hit a rock, just a rock, and in 3 days the pentcho sank in the Mediterranean. They got everything and everyone off of the ship. They were there for 10 days.
An Italian plane saw them and sent an Italian ship that took them to a refugee camp in Rhodes. They stayed in Rhodes over a year. When the British were about to take Rhodes the Italians moved the refugees into a camp in south Italy called Ferramonti.
The refugees lived well together in Ferramonti. The Italian soldiers and residents in the area treated the refugees well. After about 3 years the war was over and the refugees slowly started making their way to British Palestine. And that is how my Israeli grandfather got out of the war.
Grade 3, Kehila Heschel
Some people see a poor person and walk right past them. Others drop a coin in their cup as they walk by without making eye contact treating them as if they were invisible. I wonder why it's uncomfortable sometimes? What exactly makes it uncomfortable.
Good afternoon ladies gentlemen judges and fellow contestants my name is Yishai shapiro and I'm here to talk to you about my favourite mitzvah of tzedakah.
Every night before I go to bed I read a book that was written about a very special woman named Henny Machlis. My parents knew her before she died and apparently she is really like a superhero.
In the book I learned that she looked at every person wether they are Jewish or not or wealthy or poor, religious or don't believe in G-d as equally special. She loved everyone. Very few people made her uncomfortable because she felt that no one was better than anyone else. Some people just needed more help. She made eye contact with everyone and not only did she give them money but she fed people in her house all the time and poor people even slept in her car.
I don't think my parents would actually let me let people sleep in our car, but I try to think of other ways that I can learn to be more like her.
Learning about Henny also taught me that tzedakah isn't just about money. People like me who don't have a job can also give tzedakah in a few ways.
Sometimes people don't need money they just need a smile. Giving people what they need is actually tzedakah.
You can also give your time. Like when your mom needs help cleaning up or doing laundry and you help her, you are giving someone what they need and that is tzedakah.
You can also give money if you have it, but did you know that according to the Torah you are only supposed to give 10 per cent of what you make? That means if I make $10 shovelling the snow, I can give $1 to tzedakah.
Sometimes, my parents let me go through cupboards in our kitchen to see if we have anything to donate to the kosher food bank and sometimes we even buy stuff in the store to donate and it's really special to be able to put the groceries away on the shelves when we get to JSS. knowing that it is helping people who need a little extra support makes you feel good too.
I hope that everyone learned something new about the mitzvah of tzedakah. It is really special to me. Thank you so much for listening.
Grade 3, Hamilton Hebrew Academy
I want you to imagine the following; it’s a cold winter day and the only thing you can taste is the thick breezy air, teasing your tongue. Did you know that 1 in 7 people in Canada live in poverty. That means that 4.9 million people in Canada are living in this awful state. I think the least we could do is help. Ladies, Gentleman, Judges and fellow contestants, my name is Yonah Shapiro and I’m here to talk to you about how we can incorporate Tikun olam in our everyday lives by giving tzedakah.
Firstly, I want to ask you, did you know you can do tikun olam every day, just by doing regular mitzvos? One of the many ways you can do tikun olam is by giving tzedakah.
Tzedakah can shape itself into many different forms, but in this case, it only means one thing, “giving. By giving to your peers, you accomplish tikun olam because tikun olam is giving. However, the thing that I love most about Tikun Olam, is that these types of mitzvahs are not only good for those you help but, for yourself too, which is exactly tikun olam, repairing the world."
Secondly, I want to express how Tikun olam makes me feel when I give Tzedakah. Tikun olam is done by Jews every day especially in the form of giving charity. There are so many ways that we do this mitzvah without even realizing it. Let me ask you, have you ever gave tzedakah to someone and helped them out with that gracious act of kindness? I know people have done that to me, it lifts my spirit high. We just need to embrace this mitzvah more, so others can feel as good as we do when this is done to us.
Thirdly, I want to share with you one of my experiences of doing Tikun olam by giving Tzedakah. It was a couple weeks into school and it was one of those days were you just want to get into bed. I was finishing up my work when my father asked me “Yonah, do you want to go shul tonight?” Although I was tired, I actually came to the conclusion of saying, “sure Aba”. After davening I was completely exhausted. I was done. We were on our way home, but then we took a wrong turn and I asked my father, “wait, where are we going?”. My father told me “we are going to feed the homeless”. Honestly I actually didn’t want to go, so I started complaining. I glanced out the window and saw something, I was shocked, there were so many homeless people. Suddenly we stopped, my father rolled down his window and gave the man standing near us food. I was amazed, the man’s face, his expression, so many things were going through my head at this moment. I was emotional. I never forgot that. From that point on, I always take the opportunity when I am asked to do this mitzvah.
In conclusion, we can incorporate Tikun olam by giving tzedakah into our everyday lives. I know we can, I can do it , so you most certainly can too. From everything that I spoke to you about today I was able to realize, no matter what the thing that really matters, is that we work together to rebuild the world. Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day.
Grade 7, Hamilton Hebrew Academy