Intercultural Volunteer Program for Masada College and Unity Grammar School

By Martin Tait –  College Principal

Recently I had the pleasure of attending an excursion with a number of our Year 10 students to the Exodus Foundation as part of an intercultural volunteer program at a Homeless Shelter in Ashfield.

Along with Unity Grammar School, our students worked in group shifts which were designed to give the volunteers a holistic experience of restaurant operations. Each shift started with a site induction, after which the volunteers were allocated to a range of roles according to the restaurant’s needs. This included food preparation, restaurant set-up, food and beverage service, the creation of emergency food parcels, and cleaning. I am pleased to say that our students were excellent ambassadors for the College and learnt about the importance of volunteering, as well as at the same time gaining some wonderful connections with students from Unity Grammar School.

Our students were also very fortunate to meet Rev Bill Crews, the founder of the Exodus Foundation. Rev Crews was the recipient of the 2015 NSW Human Rights Award which pays tribute to those who support the disadvantaged and marginalized and endeavor to make NSW a better community. We look forward to more opportunities with them in the future. For further information on the incredible work the Exodus Foundation does each and every day, please visit exodusfoundation.org.au/

I would like to thank Osman Karolia, Head of Community Engagement from Unity Grammar for helping provide this opportunity for our students.


The Art of Leadership: notes from Harvard University

By Martin Tait, College Principal


This week I have been inspired by passionate lecturers and professors, along with 132 other like-minded educators and leaders from across the globe through the course, “The Art of Leadership”, held at Harvard University, Boston. Besides having the privilege to be in an environment that promotes collaborative and open discussions along with experiential learning, the course provided an opportunity for school leaders to reflect on their practice, expand their skills, and become more effective leaders of instructional change. Masada College continues to have a close association with Harvard University through our Cultures of Thinking philosophy and Project Zero learnings. The following program norms to start the course definitely resonated with me and I think could be applied to multiple situations, no matter the environment. They are:

Be Present
– Be willing to embrace the cohort experience
– Give yourself permission for creative leadership reflection

Pay Attention
– Be in learning/reflecting mode

Speak Your Truth
– Be sensitive about confidentiality
– What’s said here stays here

Be Open to Outcomes
– Be aware of how the diversity competencies connect to your leadership
– What’s learned here leaves here

Create a Safe Environment
– Be sensitive to the multiple contexts represented amongst the participants
– Be mindful of the code of conduct

I look forward to further sharing my reflections upon my return to school.


Yr 9 Visit to St Edmunds College

By Martin Liu

On the 3rd of June, I went to the St Edmunds College. St Edmunds College is like a warm a family, they care for everyone. During this excursion, we learned how Braille works and we learned to play two sport games called goalball and blind cricket. The school teachers also taught us how to use the guide sticks to walk blindfolded, and told us how to help other blind people to navigate their world. We talked to other students in the school- they were friendly and welcoming.


Year 10 Living Historians Presentations

The Year 10 students should be congratulated on their interviews, polished presentations and singing performances for their chosen historians. Sincere thanks to our willing historians for sharing their stories: Ana Le Leon, Gaby de Leon, Egon Sonneschein, Lucy Chladek, Jacqui Dale and George Sternfeld for participating in the Living Historians program as our students learnt a great deal about their interesting lives and experiences and in the process have also made some wonderful connections. Whilst this meaningful program is important for our students to gain a deeper knowledge of the atrocities from the holocaust, it also helped them better understand the ideals of hope and forgiveness for the future. This program also links perfectly for our students with their trip to Israel and Poland for later in the school year. Thank you to Mrs Seftel for her tireless work and efforts in again leading the Living Historians program, along with Mr Turkia for guiding our students in their learning.

Year 2 Siddur Presentation

The Year 2 Siddur Presentation was once again a memorable event. This continues to be an important rite of passage that many of our Senior School students fondly remember when reminiscing on their time at Masada College. You only need to listen to our Year 12 students at their Valedictory Assembly at the conclusion of their time at the College. It was wonderful to witness our Year 2 students present and perform to families, friends and teachers, but most importantly it was encouraging to observe their excited and proud faces when presented with their siddurim. Thank you again to everyone involved in ensuring the success of the Siddur Presentation, especially Morah Tchelet and Morah Sheli for their incredible efforts and hard work in preparing the students so well.

Lag Ba’Omer: Fires of warmth

By Morah Carolyn Steinman

On Thursday 23rd May, the 33rd day of the period of the Omer, we celebrate Lag B’Omer. Our children learn that it is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai a great sage who lived and taught approximately 500 years after the destruction of the Temple. Our children also learn that this period of the omer is a sad one involving the death of thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students who were struck down by a plague. The plague was a punishment for the breakdown in the relationship between the students and was lifted on Lag B’Omer hence a day of celebration.

Initially this period of the counting between Pesach and Shavuot was a time filled with excitement and anticipation. The whole purpose for the coming out of slavery in Egypt was the receiving of the Torah by the entire Jewish people, 600,000 people standing as one. In fact the Torah itself uses the singular phrases – ish echad, b’lev echad – one man with one heart to describe the unity of the people standing at Sinai.

The Torah itself and the Oral Torah (Mishna and Gemara) which was to develop from the Written Torah and Tanach is a collection of diverse thoughts, rulings and arguments: between humans and G-d, between humans themselves. Our Oral tradition even preserves the arguments of the sages while knowing that the law will side with one sage over another. So difference, argument, clashes of style and substance, are signs not of unhealthy division but of health and passion and connection to our tradition and culture.

Rabbi Akiva’s students lost sight of this diversity of thought and custom. Their lack of respect, tolerance and acceptance of difference impacts us to this day. We have lost the wisdom and diversity of thinking that could have come from them and been part of our tradition.

The bonfires of Lag B’Omer remind us that fire can destroy (a lesson that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai had to learn too) or bring people closer in seeking its warmth. Ahavat Yisrael – love of a fellow Jew is only possible when we embrace diversity as a strength, when we build up our community and seek ways to bring us together. Judaism is not Judaism when it pulls us apart.

This is the message of Lag B’Omer. This is the message your children, all our Jewish students together, will learn around the bonfire as they roast their marshmallows and enjoy their sausage sizzle.


Dignity Clothes Sort Drive

By Anila Bonfil

On the 3rd of April, over a dozen volunteers from Year 7 to Year 12 gathered to help make a difference within our community. The work they set out to do was to help sort 37 boxes of donated clothing for the organisation Dignity. Dignity is an Australian organization that provides safe refuges for those experiencing homelessness or domestic abuse. They shelter around 220 guests per night while helping them get back on their feet. Part of their hospitality involves providing their guests with clothing sets, as many who are in their positions do not have anything to their names. Our diligent volunteers sorted through the bundled clothing, mostly loose stock donated by various large retailers such as Target and K-mart, and packed them by gender and size so that those who need them will be able to access the correct clothing as quickly as possible. Their tremendous effort meant that this enormous task was completed in just an hour and a half, definitely a feat for all to be proud of.


PURIM Fever at Masada College

By Morah Carolyn Steinman

More than any other holiday, Purim teaches us to reach out to all Jews in our community and focus on solidarity. The story of Purim is as relevant today as it was then. Jews faced an existential threat. And our survival as a people depended on our mutual support.

The ways in which we celebrate the victory of survival then is through gathering together to read the Megilla (story); to invite others into our homes for a seuda (meal); to reach out to others with generosity of spirit through the mutual exchange of mishloach manot (gifts of food) and to give matanot l’evyonim (charity) to support those in our community who are in need.

Purim challenges us to look beyond ourselves and to see those around us. As we celebrate Purim we need to stop focusing on who is too left or too right, too religious or too secular. We need to unite to celebrate our continued existence despite those who wish to destroy us. We need to strengthen our support for our homeland so we may continue to be a People, free in our own land.

Chag Purim Sameach.


Professional Learning Opportunity for Teachers: Project Zero Sydney conference “Learning and Teaching for Understanding”

Calling all teachers looking for Professional Learning opportunities: We’re excited to announce that the Project Zero Sydney conference “Learning and Teaching for Understanding” will be hosted this year at Masada College on Sunday 19 May 2019.
We have the even greater pleasure to share that we will be hosting Tina Blythe of Harvard Project Zero.
We anticipate that around 400 educators will join us from across NSW/Australia on the day.
Tina will be joined by educators as presenters of two-hour interactive workshops.
Registration is now open at www.pzsyd.net
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