From the Acting Principal
Through your eyes
This week I spoke to the students at High School assembly about a topic that is somewhat contentious. I hope to encourage student voice in this space. At a later date, there will be scope to include parents, staff and Board members in further discussions. Staff also heard about this topic at the weekly staff briefing but in an abridged version.
I’m immensely proud of the interfaith programs in our school and the community. We look to understand other religions, cultures and practices through accepting eyes. We look with curiosity and openness at others’ rituals and very quickly we speak up when we see someone being treated differently (perhaps poorly) for their beliefs. We are happy to accommodate others with the understanding that they have a right to their beliefs.
What eyes do we take to intrafaith issues? Within our broader Sydney Jewish population we have a range of synagogues, communities, youth groups and organisations. We have many ways of being Jewish. We share so much – our history, our values, our Jewish calendar etc etc – and yet, we are also different. Some of our beliefs and practices are quite different but we are still Jewish.
How do we see each other in our Jewish community? Do we look within our Jewish community with the same accepting eyes that we take to interfaith experiences? Are we curious and open about the rituals in the community that are different to ours? Do we stand up for all and accommodate others?
The concepts of pluralism and egalitarianism are challenging within the community. I have been looking at this in the last week or so and wondering how we can create a positive intrafaith perspective within Emanuel School.
In essence, intrafaith discussions are discussions about a type of diversity. Discussions about human diversity of any sort can have an undercurrent related to the words being used.
These words are all different in meaning and some are more helpful than others. “Tolerating” is the lowest level of any interfaith or intrafaith perspective and similarly any perspective on other types of diversity. “Embracing” can be too difficult given one’s own beliefs. What might that look like? What is ‘across the line’?
Where do you sit in terms of your intrafaith perspective? How do you see your friends or peers who are from a different stream of Judaism? How do you see the different streams of Judaism? How do you see ‘others’, not your friends or peers in different streams of Judaism? These three questions could evoke the same answer, or not. What if they don’t? What then, are we basing our decisions on? Do we need to know a person and like them in order to be able to accept a different way of believing?
These are big questions. Today I offer the questions to the students and I hope to hear the student voice as part of the voices in our school grappling with this topic.
It’s been almost three long years, but we can finally give a very warm Emanuel welcome to our four Israeli Madrichim Ella Ben Moshe, Yohay Naymark, Omri Osteryung and Or Kaufman, who arrived this week. The Madrichim become an integral part of our School, running Mifgashim (Jewish and Zionist educational day seminars) for Years 7, 9, 10 and 11; Machaneh Ayekah (Year 10 Camp); Machaneh Krembo (Year 8 Hebrew Camp) and Machaneh Bisli (Year 5 Hebrew Day). They will also be involved in the general Jewish life of the School from Kabbalat Shabbat to celebrating Rosh Hashanah and so much more. Thank you to those Emanuel families who have opened their homes and are hosting Ella, Yohay, Omri and Or.
We wish Sarit Spira and Joel the very best as Sarit leaves us in Week 8 to await the arrival of her first child. This is an exciting and challenging time for the family. We can’t wait to see photos of baby Spira.
Alex Symonds has let us know he will be leaving at the end of term to pursue a role within the Reserve Bank of Australia. We wish him the very best in his new venture. We are lucky to have Lauren Korotkov return early from her year’s leave to take Alex’s place for Term 4.
On Wednesday night over 30 students from Year 2 to Year 11 performed for an appreciative audience at the Term 3 Twilight Concerts. The two concerts, which run back-to-back involved a huge variety of solo student performers including singers, cellists, violinists, pianists, clarinetists, flautists, drummers, percussionists, brass players and saxophonists (with backing track or piano accompaniment). Congratulations to Danny Burley, Assistant Head of Music, who not only rehearses with and accompanies many of the student performers, but also skilfully ran the event which was attended by proud parents. Thank you to our Music tutor team for helping prepare our budding musicians and to Ofer Levy, parent and photographer, for capturing many of the moments so perfectly.
Presenters from Jewish Care facilitated the Love Bites workshop to Years 9 and 10 over the last two weeks as part of our extensive Wellbeing Program. Love Bites is a Respectful Relationships Education Program that focuses on relationship violence, sex and relationships generally, with the aim of helping young people understand the importance of consent, respect and understanding.
So many of our students are involved in projects to raise funds and awareness for a number of charities both in Australia and abroad. Our students embody the characteristics of a mensch – they are upstanders and compassionate advocates for those who don’t have a voice.
Friendship Circle Fundraiser
On Thursday, the Primary SRC team ran a fundraiser in aid of Friendship Circle. Students were encouraged to wear a purple accessory and donate a gold coin towards Friendship Circle’s programs. The Years 3-6 SRC leaders helped lead discussions in class about the charity and the exceptional work that they do. Look out for their article in Ma Nishma next week.
Jessi Levin, Year 8, has been growing her hair for over 12 months. Last weekend, she donated over 25cm to Sustainable Salons. The organisation sends ponytails directly to wigmakers and to charitable organisations such as Variety and the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) to be made into charitable wigs or to fund life-changing programs. She shared: “I grew my hair for a long time because I wanted to cut it for cancer. My late grandpa had cancer and so did my other grandpa. By cutting my hair, I gave other kids my age the chance to get a wig or ponytail made while they have treatment”.
Billum Bags – collection of pre-loved knitwear
As the weather slowly starts to warm up, you may be thinking of clearing out your winter wardrobe. The School is supporting Among Equals, a not for profit developed by Emanuel parent, Caroline Sherman. The organisation aims to enhance economic opportunities for women and their communities through trade. They connect with and support artisan weavers in Papua New Guinea who repurpose yarn from unwanted knitwear to create Bilum Bags, each one a unique work of wearable art. The Bilum Bags are sold by Among Equals, with the net profits being invested back in the community.
Next week, please send your child with pre-loved knitwear such as scarves, jumpers, beanies and blankets to the collection point at reception. The chunkier the knit, the better. Items do not need to be in perfect condition. A hole here and there is no issue as the yarn is unravelled and combined with other strands to create the Bags.
News around town
Our biannual Grandparents & Friends and Alumni newsletters were emailed last week. They are filled with interesting stories, photos and interviews. Take a moment to flick through the pages and enjoy reading about the happenings in our community.
Poem of the week – in honour of Poem in my Pocket Day
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.