Alex Cowen second place winner of the Mikolot

Mikolot success


A huge mazal tov to Year 11 student Alex Cowen who came second place in Mikolot,  the national public speaking competition for Jewish schools.

This year students were required to reflect on the High Holy Days through Elie Wiesel’s (1992) words that, “I believe that to be Jewish today means what it meant yesterday and a thousand years ago – it means for the Jew in me to seek fulfillment both as a Jew and as a human being. Judaism and humanity must go together. A Jew must be sensitive to the pain of all human beings. The mission of the Jewish people has never been to make the world more Jewish but to make it more human.”

44 students entered the competition, with seven becoming finalists. The grand final was judged by Malcolm Turnbull AC.

Alex’s winning speech highlighted her grandfather, the late Sir Zelman Cowen’s work campaigning for Indigenous Australians to be recognised by the constitution in the 1967 referendum, as well as his campaign against the White Australia policy as examples of Judaism and humanity being hand-in-hand. 

Alex also reflected that During our High Holy Days we are given an opportunity to improve, to reflect on what it means to be human and to grow.

During Rosh HaShanah we are reminded that we were made in God’s image and we are intrinsically set with a purpose. We are reminded on this day of the shared power of our humanity, with which we can transform the world from a place of goodness and kindness. Yom Kippur allows us to reflect on our shortcomings and then ask forgiveness for them. Is it not the most human thing to strive to be better? We must take our special gift of Judaism and make the world more human, as we have done for thousands of years. 

Kol haKavod Alex – an amazing and well-deserved result! Should you wish to hear the three place winning speeches, click here.