2024 Principal’s Welcome

2024 Principal’s Welcome

Welcome back for 2024! Our staff are ready and energised to embark on a year full of learning, friendship and ruach! We can’t wait to see you all back at school next week.

Many members of staff have been very busy over the summer holiday break. Our maintenance team has been working around the clock. Cleaning the school in readiness for the start of the year and finishing off some special projects on both campuses. We are so grateful for all they have done!

Our Nagle Ave Shule renovations are complete, and the room looks spacious and welcoming. With freshly painted walls and new carpet, it is a fitting space for meaningful tefillah.

Our ELC has had a make-over too, with gorgeous new furniture, fresh paint and new floors for the kindergarten classrooms! Our beautiful, revamped ELC is warm and inviting and all ready for our little people to do some big learning. We thank David Fisher, Charlene Orwin and the maintenance team for facilitating this.

As you know the make-over is only the first step in enhancing the learning environment for our youngest students. We have our sights set on moving our ELC to a purpose-built facility at Nagle Ave. Our Yavneh Foundation will focus its efforts on raising funds to build a new Kindergarten at our main Yavneh campus. This focus brings enhancements to the Yavneh educational experience full-circle. Last year we invested in our senior school with the opening of our Marie Gross z”l VCE centre. This year we will devote our fundraising efforts to the start of the Yavneh journey. Our hope is to bring our youngest students into the Nagle Ave fold. ELC students and parents need to be part of the bigger Yavneh family. We are grateful in advance of the Yavneh and wider community support for this exciting and significant project.

Late last year, we issued a survey to parents, students and staff. Understanding the perception of our school held by these three groups is important to us, and although the response rate wasn’t what we had hoped for, the submissions received provided rich and valuable information. Analysis of the individual respondent categories gave us a window of perceived strengths and opportunities, localised to certain groups, as well as trends across our community. We are thrilled that the response across all groups surveyed, demonstrate a commitment to Yavneh’s Torah values and culture, and an appreciation for the sense of community, belonging and spirit that makes Yavneh unique.

It was also evident that all respondents wish to see continued attention to the area of classroom behaviour management, a strategic focus in 2023 which will continue to be a priority this year. Focusing on the parent response, you told us that the transition from Primary to High School is well run, that you are comfortable expressing your views, that you value safety and consider Yavneh a safe environment for your family and that the size of the school is a positive to the Yavneh experience. In terms of areas of improvement, you highlighted teacher-parent communications, additional offerings (academic extension, extra-curricular and sport), a focus on individualised education, our ELC facilities and school uniform standards. All feedback forms part of Leadership Team discussions to inform our operational priorities for the coming year. We look forward to your continued feedback as the year progresses and new initiatives are implemented.

As always, we cherish our partnership with parents. Various parent information evenings (details to follow) will be scheduled at the start of the year. We appreciate parent attendance at these evenings. We again ask that parents ensure that their children are present for the start of the school day, wearing the appropriate school uniform. As an Orthodox school that abides by Halacha, our uniform too is imbued with Torah observance. We ask that as you bundle your children into the car in the morning, please check that boys are wearing kippah and tzitzit and girls’ skirts are an appropriate length. Please know that staff and our wonderful YPO at the uniform shop are here to help in any way we can.

Yavneh Community service has been growing in participatory numbers and impact. We are immensely proud of the many students who regularly volunteer their time to organisations such as Friendship Circle, Flying Fox, Emmy Monash and others. Led by our one and only Morah Rivka, this year we will be building on the momentum of 2023 to get even more students involved in making our world better and kinder! We are excited to announce that Yavneh will be partnering with Flying Fox for our very own Yavneh – Flying Fox camp! Students in Years 7, 10 and 11 will be invited to apply to be leaders on this camp. The process includes formal interviews followed by afterschool education sessions, culminating in a 4-day, 3-night camp which will take place at the end of Term 3. Stay tuned for more information.

As I prepare for the start of Term next week and reflect on both the summer break and the end of another year, I draw on this week’s Parsha. Parshat Beshalach ends with narrative of the genocidal intent of Amalek against the Jewish people, a story that is grimly close to home. As Bnei Yisrael fight for their lives, Moshe lifts his hands towards the heavens. When Moshe’s hands are up, Bnei Yisrael prevail, but when Moshe rests his weary arms, Bnei Yisrael are overwhelmed.

We read that:

וִידֵ֤י מֹשֶׁה֙ כְּבֵדִ֔ים – Moshe’s hands were heavy.

At first, he alone carried the responsibility for the safety of his people, and the onus was too much for his hands to bear.

But then Moshe’s family come to assist and share the responsibility with him.

וַיִּקְחוּ־אֶ֛בֶן וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ תַחְתָּ֖יו וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב עָלֶ֑יהָ וְאַהֲרֹ֨ן וְח֜וּר תָּֽמְכ֣וּ בְיָדָ֗יו מִזֶּ֤ה אֶחָד֙ וּמִזֶּ֣ה אֶחָ֔ד

Aharon, Moshe’s brother, and Chur, Moshe’s brother-in-law, found a rock on which Moshe can sit and then each support an arm, together ensuring that with Moshe’s hands pointed towards the heavens, Bnei Yisrael are able to overcome Amalek.

Through this family reinforcement and brotherly support, וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה, Moshe’s hands turn from ‘Kaved, heavy’ to ‘Emunah, steady and full of faith’.

Through this family reinforcement and brotherly support, וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה, Moshe’s hands turn from ‘Kaved, heavy’ to ‘Emunah, steady and full of faith’.

It has been 110 days since October 7. Our brothers and sisters in Israel are still holding up their hands towards the heavens. Many Yavneh families, current and past, have loved ones serving in the IDF. Although we are geographically distant from Israel, we still can, and must, channel our inner Aaron and Chur and do what we can to help.

Our Kenes Tefillah (Tehillim, Mishebeirach for Tzahal, Acheinu) will resume daily in the High School. Our Primary School students will continue to say Tehillim in their classrooms after tefillah each day. This year our student fundraising efforts will go towards helping rebuild the kibbutzim in the Gaza envelope.

The Yavneh family is part of the bigger family of Am Yisrael.  We will do our part to transform the ‘Kaved’ of our siblings in Israel, into ‘Emunah’. This is what is means to be part of the Yavneh family. We pride ourselves on working in partnership with parents to embed the Yavneh values in each and every student, culminating in graduates who are knowledgeable, committed, inspired and inspiring Jews and Zionists. And over the summer, we saw two examples of the commitment to Yavneh values in practice. 

Firstly, and foremostly, nowhere was this seen more clearly than in the speech of Tal Becker (LYC graduate ’89) at the Hague. Although he was responding to a depressingly farcical accusation, we are proud and grateful that Tal represented our people. Additionally, Tal was instrumental in crafting the transformational Abraham Accords and he continues to be an articulate and effective defender of Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael.

Closer to home, on the Shabbat of Parshat Bo, we were privileged to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Igor (LYC class of 2023). Having come to Yavneh in Year 8 with little Jewish knowledge, Igor missed out on being Bar Mitz-ved at the usual age of 13. Now guided by Noah Epstein, Igor learnt to lain maftir and say all the brachot while his Yavneh friends encouraged and supported him along the way. Kehillat Ohr David (Mizrachi), which is regularly run by Yavneh grads, was overflowing with Yavneh alumni as they came to celebrate this very special Bar Mitzvah.

In Igor’s journey towards increasing his commitment to Yiddishkeit, the Yavneh family opened their doors and their hearts, inviting him to share their Shabbat and Yomtov tables. Families Goldman, Epstein and Menahem hosted Bar Mitzvah celebrations too. In a few weeks Igor, along with his Yavneh friends, will commence a yearlong Israel program to continue his Jewish learning and Jewish experiences. In our first Kesher of the year we will publish excerpts of the Bar Mitzvah speech so you can share the nachas too.

These examples are but two demonstrations of how core Yavneh values continue to influence and guide our students years after they leave school. They also demonstrate the power of the Yavneh family. We are so grateful to partner with Yavneh parents to create Yavneh menschen of whom we are so proud.

May this year bring further nachas from all our dear students, and peace and security to Medinat and Am Yisrael.

By Morah Shula [Princpal]