Esther and Mordecai made a decision to express their Jewish identity in a non-Jewish community. To what extent should you express your Jewish identity in Australian society?

This was the question posed to the six semi-finalists that competed in the Mikolot Speech Night on Tuesday in the School Library. This question elicited a range of responses: discussion of past persecution, an examination of research into how our actions impacts others, and meditations on the open-mindedness of Australian society.

The six semi-finalists (Daniel Tucker, Asher Altschuler, Toni Grolman, Nelly Shufrin, Santino Febbo and Lev Kagan) competed in two sections during the two-hour competition. The first was a prepared speech round, where students presented an argument to the above topic. The sophistication of student responses was incredibly impressive and the confidence and authority with which they spoke captivated the audience.

The second section was an impromptu round, where students were given five minutes to prepare an unseen topic. They then needed to respond to this topic in the form of a 30 second – 2-minute speech. Though many students were nervous, they spoke fluently and offered many examples to support the main idea of each theme.

After much considered deliberation, the judges delivered their adjudication. In particular, they commented on the quality of the speeches and the importance of focusing on Jewish content within both sections of the competition.

The placings were as follows:

Second runner-up: Asher Altschuler

First runner-up: Lev Kagan

Winner: Santino Febbo

Congratulations to all contestants for an extremely high level of competition. Santino will now fly to Sydney in September to compete in the national final. The prizes on offer include a significant monetary contribution to an approved Israel program.

We wish Santino every success in the final stage of the competition.