What does being Israeli mean to a 5th or 6th grader living in Petah Tikva?

On Tuesday March 1st, we got to hear the answer to that — in the form of 37 extraordinary speeches made during a public speaking competition held at the Young Ambassadors school. The contest involved our youngest members, with the top participants chosen from among more than 250 elementary school students all over the city of Petah Tikva. Each participant had 90 seconds to speak, in front of a crowd of hundreds of students, parents and teachers, and a panel of six distinguished judges, on the topic “what does being Israeli mean to me.”

The students presented a wide range of ideas — from more common concepts like Israeli innovation, security concerns, Jewish history and holidays, the desire for peace, and, of course, falafel and bamba, to some more unusual ideas, like the importance of giving back to one’s country, responsibility to care for fellow citizens, and the innate Israeli habit of arguing!

After an hour and a half of speeches, the judges had a very difficult time choosing the five finalists. In the end, Eden Pery and Eden Yosef from Bar Lev elementary school, Itay Ozer and Shira Shemesh from Kaplan elementary school, and Idan Sasonker from Yesodot elementary school, were chosen as the finalists. In the last round, each student had to answer a question from the judges. After great anticipation, Shira Shemesh won the entire contest. All five finalists received special certificates, and Shira will host an hour-long radio segment for Chaim Roter’s radio show on Kol Israel radio station.

The parents, teachers and judges alike were all impressed by the quality of the speeches and the maturity and poise of all of the participants. Congratulations go to all of the participants, and especially to Shira and her fellow finalists!

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