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

Grade 5
First: Joshua Brown
Second: Gila Zians
Third: Kol Mendelson

Grade 6
First:  Ma'ayan Kirat
Second: Dylan Ginsberg
Third: Yali Levgoren

Grade 7
First: Brandon Abramowitz
Second: Michael Lebedev

Grade 8
First:  Elle Ohayon
Second: Jarred Brown
Third: Emet Mendelson


The power of the Jewish community

Hi my name is Baila Mendelson. I am eight years and today. I am going to talk about the importance of the Jewish community.  This is important to me because when I was three years old,  the Jewish community saved my life. But community isn't just important to me – it is important to all of us. Having a strong Jewish community means that we have good schools to go to and shuls to pray in. When kids are little, we have Jewish daycares to go to so they can learn Jewish songs and stories – just like I did.  
We have places like Jewish social services to help when people need food.  When people are hungry they can go to our Jewish food bank and get kosher food. When we get old, there are wonderful places like shalom village where we can go and fill the day with activities. When we get sick, we have groups of people to come and visit us in the hospital. It is called the mitzvah of bikur cholim, which mean visiting the sick.
Our Torah teaches us that visiting a sick person is a way to fulfill another mitzvah to love your fellow Jew. It is also traditional to recite prayers for healing such as the Mi Shebeirach prayer in Shul and Tehillim on behalf of the sick.  The Bikur cholim groups exist in the Jewish Communities ALL around the world. Did YOU KNOW that the earliest Bikur cholim groups on record dates back to the middle ages - that’s like a thousand years ago!
We know that this is a super special mitzvah becuase it is something that God himself does! Did you know when Avraham is circumcised, God visits Avraham when he is recovering.  God models this mitzah for us and the Talmud gives us lots of rules about visiting sick people.  We should never embarrass someone who is sick or stay too long.  We also shouldn’t arrive to early or too late. I bet most hospitals don’t realize they are following Torah when they have strict visitor’s hours! 
And this is where my story comes in.  I know, I know, it took me a little while to get to it.

When I was three years old, I decided to take my scooter to school.  I was racing with my brother along the sidewalk and I fell into a busy street and was hit by a car.  I spent 6 weeks in the ICU at the hospital  and it took me months to walk properly.
One of the only things that made me feel better was knowing that a lot of people were thinking of me and praying for me to get better.  And of course - the GIANT mountain of stuffies collecting in my hospital room was pretty awesome too! People came to visit me and brought me books and stickers and stuffies.  My friends came and brought me pictures to hang up in my hospital room to make it nicer.  The best was when they made me laugh!
Sometimes, when I woke up in my hospital bed, I would notice a whole bunch of people praying.  When I asked my Abba what they were doing there, he said they were davening for me to get better.
I know I am really a lucky girl because the Jewish Community came and prayed for me.
I hope that what happens to me never happens to you.  But if you do ever end up sick or hurt- you can be sure that the Jewish community will help you - just like they helped me.  And guess what? I may just be one of the people who come to visit you.
Thanks for listening.
And I have one more question for you – do YOU like books stuffies and stickers ?

Baila Mendelson
Grade 3
Kehila Heschel School


Voting is your Jewish Responsibility!


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.

Kol Mendelson
Grade 5
Earl Kitchener


Jewish Circuses

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. 

Emet Mendelson
Grade 8. Ryerson Middle School


My Favourite Jewish Holiday

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.

Hannah Templeton
Grade 3, Hamilton Hebrew Academy

Some Yiddish for your Kop

Hi Everybody, my name is Zev Rauchwerger. It is so nice to be here and I’d like to thank the organizers for inviting Kehila to come to the Morris Black Speaking Contest, and to the Black family for hosting this competition! 
That’s enough schmoozing for now.  Let’s get on with the speech.  My topic is Yiddish expressions.  Here are some Yiddish expressions I`d like to share with you:
SCHLEP – for example, do we have to schlep all this stuff to Toronto. And if you were wondering what s(c)help means it means to carry or to move. Here is another Yiddish expression:
SHMATA – for example, please pass me the shmata so I can wipe the shmutz off my face.
OY GEVALT means oh no. For example: oy gevalt someone spilled the beans! 
And how many people here ate too many latkes for chanuka last week??? I know I sure did! Well that’s Yiddish for potato pancake!
There is a Yiddish expression: HOK A CHAINK it means to talk too much or to talk too much nonsense. Hopefully I won’t do that today!
Now here is a little bit about where Yiddish came from. Yiddish has been around since the 9th century. It was used by Ashkenazi Jews in central Europe. Yiddish is a mix of different languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Germanic and Romance languages.
In the early 1900s most of the Jewish people in Europe spoke Yiddish. After the Holocaust there were a lot less Yiddish speaking Jewish people in the world. Many people moved to America and started to speak English instead.
When Eretz Yisroel was born many Jewish people moved there and did not speak Yiddish. They chose to speak Hebrew instead of Yiddish. With such an old language, there were lots of Yiddish  books, songs and stories and less people would understand their meaning because less people understood Yiddush. 
It has been important for Jewish people to keep this language alive so that all of the books, songs and stories would not be forgotten.
My great grandfather Max still reads the newspaper in Yiddish everyday. My aunt has a PHd in Yiddush language and at Passover we read poems and songs in Yiddush to keep us from forgetting. There is a lot of Yiddush in movies and TV shows because there are a lot of Jewish people in Hollywood. I hope you will think about some of these words and where they came from when you hear them!
That’s all for now – hopefully you did not need to take a shluff during my speech! 
Thanks for listening and ZAY GEZUNT (means be well and good bye!)

Zev Rauchwerger
Grade 3, Kehila Heschel

I'm just a kid. Am I too young for Mitzvot?


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!


Lana Verzberger-Epshtein
Grade 4, Hamilton Hebrew Academy


My Savta

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

Ma'ayan Kirat
Grade 6, Sir William Osler


Shel Silverstein

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.

Ari Benaroia


Famous Jewish People


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!

Thank you.

Zack Benaroia

My Grandfather's Story


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.

Thank you.

Benjamin Farkash
Grade 3, Kehila Heschel

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

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.   

Yishai Shapiro
Grade 3, Hamilton Hebrew Academy

Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah

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. 

Yonah Shapiro
Grade 7, Hamilton Hebrew Academy

My Favourite Jewish Holiday

Hello, my name is Hannah Faith Cukier. My middle name is Faith and I had a lot of faith in myself to be able to come here today.

My topic today is: my favourite Jewish holiday. It is, as some of you may have guessed, it’s Hanukkah. Each morning, me and my brother take turns opening an envelope. On each day, there is a message inside the envelope and we do whatever it says.  Here are some examples, playing dreidel, eating donuts or making Hanukkah crafts. We also do one thing for charity. One year, we took food to the fire hall for them to give to people who can’t afford buying food on Hanukkah. Another time, we filled purses for poor women with soap, shampoo, pantyhose and nail polish. 

Every night, me and my brother take turns picking the candle colours- pink, orange, red, green, yellow and blue, purple, peach and just plain white. 

On Hanukkah, I go to my mom’s side and celebrate and my dad’s side. After we eat the delicious latkes and other food, we open gifts. I am the youngest, so I open presents first. 

I love presents but my main favourite thing is spending time with my family. With my dad’s side, I play cards with my cousins. With my mom’s side, we play basketball, ping pong or other games. I also love playing dreidel and love landing on gimel! We usually play for Smarties or M&Ms. My dad is a super dreidel spinner. He can even spin the dreidel on its stem.  After all of that, we say the prayers and light the candles all together. With my mom’s side we usually take a picture of all of us. My dad usually does it and he sets it for 3, 2, 1 and then he runs over very quickly to find a spot. We normally put the picture in our next year’s calendar. 
I love going over to my family for Hanukkah. That is why it’s my favourite holiday!

Hannah Faith Cukier
Grade 3, Gatestone Elementary School


How my Israeli grandfather got out of the war


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.  Thank you.

Ben Farkash


I’m just a kid. Am I too young to do mitzvot? 

Good afternoon judges, parents and fellow contestants.  I am Miriam, in grade 5 at Kehila Heschel.  I believe it doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re never too young to do mitzvot.  They can e really tiny mitzvot, like holding the door for someone or throwing trash in the garbage.  If you’re a little older you can participate in group mitzvot like visiting retirement homes or raising money for organizations.  You can help pick up all of the trash in a park.  You don’t have to do gigantic mitzvot, whether you’re old or young, and little by little the world will become a better place.

Mitzvot are good deeds.  Mitzvah and Mitzvot mean commandments.   When we first got the Torah, HaShem gave us the ten commandments which are also good deeds.  In the Torah, there are 613 mitzvot.  Commandments include honouring your mother and father and helping your neighbour.  G-d commands us to always do good things and doesn’t want us to do bad things.  That's why he saved Noah, who was good and not mean from the flood.

Bar/Bat Mitavah means “son or daughter of the commandments”.  Once you turn 12 or 13, you become a grown up and you get to read from the Torah.  You are able to read about the 613 mitzvot.  We can try to make the world a better place.  The world is getting polluted - this is our world that we live in and we have a responsibility to take care of it.  Our generation can try to change the world by helping to take care of the animals, and trying to use less plastic."

Sometimes kids are just right at doing mitzvot.  Kids are good at visiting their neighbours and elderly people.  Both kids and elderly people are good at telling stories, and elderly people are really quiet and nice, and that's good.  Kids are really good at shovelling a walk or raking leaves because kids are pretty fast and have more energy.  We help kids who are younger than us at lot.  We’re closer in age so we can understand each other more.  Nobody's perfect so you have to try the best you can, and that’s good.  Thank you.

Miriam Sandilands


Why is there always a Holocaust topic in the contest?


Hello judges, parents and fellow contestants.  My name is Asher Dressler and I am a lucky boy.  Not only do i Have a grandmother but I have a great grandmother and I call her super Oma.  You may think from the word super that she has super powers like flyer, super strength or x-ray vision, but it's not the case.  Her super powers is that she is a survivor.  The reason I call her super Oma is because she survived the Holocaust.

When she was just 11 living in Pinsk, the Russian army took her home and father’s bakery as well as the houses and property from all the Jewish families.  They made them them leave the city, and she survived.

Then German soldiers put super Oma and her family and all the Jewish families she was with in the a ghetto.  The German soldiers were worse than the Russian soldiers, and she survived.  My super Oma’s dad was smart because he gave baked goods to the German soldiers in the ghetto to make friends with them.  This worked because a German soldier warned super Oma’s father to leave the ghetto with his family and to never come back in, and super Oma survived.  

Super Oma and her family went to her house keepers home and hid in the basement for 21  months.  They knit sweaters to trade for food.  It was harsh living in a basement for almost 2 years, and she survived.  

While super Oma was in hiding her brother stayed in the ghetto trying to fight for freedom with the resistance against the German soldiers, and he did not survive.  Super Oma’s brother was brave to fight and she was very sad to lose her brother.

After the war ended Super Oma the rest of her family did not want to stay in Pinsk because there were only a few Jewish families left and everything was destroyed so they moved to Berlin where the American army had safe DP camps.  And she survived.  Super Oma got married and had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

My super Oma’s story of surviving the Holocaust is important because we want to pass on her memories from generation to generation.  There is always a Holocaust topic in the contest because we always want to remember the people who died and the people who survive, and we never want this to happen again.  Thank you.

Asher Bernstein Dressler
Kehila Heschel

Operation Moses

Hello everyone my name is Mike Pochaev. I am a grade 3 student at Kehila Heschel School. I was born in Tel Aviv from an Ethiopian Jewish mom and a Russian Jewish dad.

Today I will be talking about Operation  Moses. Operation Moses in Hebrew would be מבצע משה which is a secret mission to bring Ethiopian jews (known as Bet Israel community of FALASHA).

In the early '80s, Thousands of Bet Israelis, (Ethiopian Jews) began leaving on foot their villages in the rural areas and making their way to the southern Sudan a  journey which usually takes anywhere from two weeks to a month, from where they hoped to make their way to Kenya -- and from there to Israel. Estimated as many as 4000 Ethiopian jews died during the trek.

The second stage of their journey was made from the Sudan aboard Israeli navy craft which awaited them in the Red Sea and brought them to Israel. The existing Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel at this time numbered around 7,000 souls; by late 1981, 14,000 more Ethiopian Jews had arrived; this figure had doubled by mid-1984.

November 21st 1984 was the beginning of a mass rescue operation, entitled "Mivtza Moshe" [Operation Moses]: over a period of 7 weeks,over 30 flights brought about 200 Ethiopian jews at a time to Israel. 8,000 Jews were flown from Khartoum [Sudan] to Europe and from there to Israel. News of the rescue leaked out to the foreign media in November 1985, with the result that President Numeiri of Sudan halted the operation for fear of hostile reaction from the Arab states. After lots of talking by the US, Numeiri allowed six American Hercules planes to airlift the last remaining Ethiopian Jews in Sudan; their arrival in Israel brought the numbers of olim to around 16,000.

I’m very proud to be an Israeli Jew. I’m also proud of my moms Aunts and uncles who were part of this journey and made it to the holy promised land of Israel.

Thank you for listening. 

Mike Pochaev
Grade 3, Kehila Heschel

My distant cousin


Hello fellow competitors and judges.  

My name is Emma Romm, I am in 3rd grade at Kehila Heschel Hamilton School.  Today I am talking about my distant cousin, who has the hardest last name to pronounce, here I go, Saul Katzenellenbogen.
A long, long, time ago, about 400 years to be exact, Saul was the “Roi du Jour”, King for a day of Poland!!  That’s right, there was a Jewish King of Poland. Hard to believe, huh? But at the National Library of Israel there is a small torah scroll, only 10cm long, and it's in honour of my cousin, the crowned Jewish King of Poland.  

How many of you can claim to have royalty? Can I see a show of hands please?  I know there are some people here who may think they are princesses and princes – but that doesn’t count.  

Saul was a smart student and businessman who originally came from Venice, Italy.  Everyone goes to Italy these days!! Like my Uncle Didi, he went there over ten years ago and only comes back for the holidays, like Chanukah!

As I was saying…. The story goes that Saul’s father, Rabbi Samuel, met a poor man he didn’t know was really a Prince.  Prince Mikolaj had given up all his money, his servants and his title because the Pope told him all his sins would be forgiven.  He lived wandering the streets of Italy penniless.  After a few years, he cried and cried for help, claiming he was really a Prince, but no one believed him.  Only Rabbi Samuel was nice to him and gave him money to go home.  Mikolaj wanted to repay the Rabbi for this mitzvot, but the Rabbi only asked that Mikolaj find his son who was at a Yeshiva in Poland.

Mikolaj and his court were so impressed with how smart Saul was, he let him stay at his castle and his good reputation spread through Poland.  When the King of Poland died, they couldn’t decide who to elect.  Mikolaj said to pick Saul and he was elected to the shouts of “Long Live King Saul!” King Saul didn’t waste any time, he made new laws to improve life for Polish Jews.  

This tale, is part of who I am and one of the many amazing stories in my family’s history.  I also discovered that this family tree traces its roots to Rashi – now that has to be true, because everyone in my family has an opinion on just about EVERYTHING!   But let’s save that for another day.             

Thank you.

Emma Romm
Grade 3, Kehila Heschel