The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s Public Speaking Contest has been happening annually in Vancouver since 1989 and is open to students in grades 4 to 7. The registration deadline for this year’s event – which takes place March 7, 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver – is Feb. 26.
For the contest, students are asked to prepare a speech of three minutes or less, choosing from a variety of topics connected to Judaism and Israel. Speeches are delivered on the evening of the contest in front of an audience, with two judges who assess the speeches based on content and presentation.
Prizes are awarded to the top three speeches in each age group. While there are winners in every section, participation is valued above everything else, and all participants receive a prize and a certificate.
Those students who are Hebrew-speaking or interested in the Hebrew language are encouraged to deliver their speech in Hebrew. Hebrew speeches have their own grouping and are judged on effort and content, not on their level of Hebrew fluency.
The contest is a great learning experience, good preparation for bar or bat mitzvah, and a skill increasingly needed in our present political climate. For a flavour of the contest, there is a film on YouTube, posted by Larry Barzelai, which was commissioned for the 13th anniversary of the contest in 2018. Barzelai established the contest in memory of his father, a few years after his brother established one in Hamilton, Ont. (See jewishindependent.ca/young-speakers-deliver.)
The topics for the Public Speaking Contest are:
1. Talk about one person from either Tanach or the Talmud and highlight one important life lesson we can learn from them.
2. What makes a piece of art or music Jewish? Is it Jewish just because the person who created it is Jewish or does it have to have something Jewish embedded into it (i.e. a Jewish symbol, tradition or value)?
3. If you were to create a TikTok highlighting the Vancouver Jewish community what would it be about?
4. There are many different ways for Israelis to serve their country. Select one way Israelis do this and discuss why it is important to the country.
5. What is in a name? Talk about your name, what it means and why your parents chose that name.
6. We all have experience where we are the only or one of the only Jewish people. Talk about what it is like to be the only or one of the only Jews in your school, in one of your afterschool activities or at camp.
7. You are planning a trip to Israel. Name one place in Israel that you would like to visit and explain why you would like to visit that place.
8. Rambam (Maimonides), in his eight levels of tzedakah, says the highest form of giving is to enable someone to support themselves. Why do you think this is the highest form of tzedakah?
9. We have a continuing concern about climate change and the environment. What does the Torah say about caring for the land and how can we integrate Jewish values with environmental protection?
10. Topic of your choice.
– From jewishvancouver.com