B’nai B’rith is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Bernard J. Lustig Scholarship:
Rabbi Sammy Brygel (full scholarship), Isabel Gelb (full scholarship) and Rabbi Alon Meltzer (partial scholarship).
Rebecca Forgasz, Chair of Trustees, expressed the trustees’ delight with the standard of all of the applications received, both the level of academic achievement of the applicants and their involvement in Jewish and communal life. “We were also particularly pleased to have received such a good number of submissions and to have been able to make an award, after not having done so last year due to COVID19. We wish all our scholarship recipients the best of luck with their travels and their studies."
Sports enthusiast and Mt Scopus Jewish Studies teacher Rabbi Sammy Brygel has been awarded a travel grant to enable him to attend Yeshiva Shapell's – Darche Noam for a year. The immersive Yeshiva experience will provide Sammy with professional development as a Jewish Studies teacher, focusing on core Jewish literacy skills. Additionally, Sammy and his wife Esther will be joining the World Mizrachi Shalhevet program - a program designed to train young educator and rabbinical couples as they lead communities in the diaspora. Forgasz noted that the Trustees “are confident that Sammy and his wife Esther will return to Melbourne with even greater passion and experience to continue to serve the Jewish community.”
Isabel Gelb, a student of Monash University, holds Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce degrees and will be using the Scholarship travel grant to further her studies abroad at King’s College London. Isabel is passionate about engaging herself and her peers in Jewish focused events and as such, has held many leadership positions, one of which was President of the Monash Jewish Students’ Society (MonJSS). During her presidency, Isabel coordinated many programs and initiatives to engage the thousands of Jewish university students at Monash. She is also a student leader on the Monash Student Association Student Affairs Committee where she acts as a representative of the interests of the entire Monash University student body, particularly of the interests of Jewish students.
Isabel is looking forward to participating in the many leadership opportunities available at King’s College as well as the legal volunteering services in London.
Rabbi Alon Meltzer is the Rabbi of Or Chadash Synagogue and the Director of Programs at Shalom. He serves as a board member for the Relationships Australia NSW Research Ethics Committee, and on the board of the international organisation, Grow Torah. Rabbi Meltzer’s work focuses on the development of community at large, and how best to intersect secular lived experience with relevant Jewish wisdom.
Rabbi Meltzer is currently studying a PhD at LaTrobe University's Law School
and has been awarded a research grant to enable him to write his thesis on “Digital Fidelity: how social media has impacted on Modern Orthodox Jews and their relationship with Jewish law and the rabbinic establishment”. This fascinating research will not only inform current research on the trends and impacts of social media across different areas of society, but will also serve to educate the institutions, communities, Rabbis and laity of the trends and impacts of collaborative social media on Jewish legal texts and processes.
SIXTY YEARS ON, A LIVING MEMORIAL REMAINS
It happened in 1955. Summer holiday period. Hume Highway. Car, driver, two passengers. The car swerved off the road and hit a tree. A common event, a tragedy, more frequent then than today. Two young men died. The woman passenger survived. The accident ended the life of Bernard Lustig, a brilliant young barrister, winner of the University of Melbourne’s Supreme Court Prize. He was the older son of Adolf and Kate Lustig, German refugees from Nazism who fled to Australia before the war. As the war ended Adolf helped found the first B'nai B'rith lodge in Melbourne.
Bernard followed in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer, although Adolf’s career in Munich was cut short by the Nuremberg Race Laws. Bernard also became interested in B'nai B'rith in 1951, becoming a founding member of B'nai B'rith Youth Melbourne and one of its earliest presidents. His death generated a thought among the members of the BBY committee. Let’s establish a scholarship in his memory. Too ambitious, said some. But anyone who knew the late Pauline Richter (later Pauline Glass) would testify that this was a young woman who was motivated, capable and persistent. She won the day. With financial contributions from B'nai B'rith Melbourne Lodge and its Women’s Chapter, the youth group set up a fund later that year, and awarded the first scholarships, to assist capable Year 12 students about to embark on a university course in 1956. Six decades have passed, and the scholarship is now the oldest continuing B'nai B'rith project and the longest running scholarship in the Victorian Jewish community. As with any project that survives for so long, it has had to change with the times. The first scholarship was worth ₤50. Today, winners receive $2500. Winners are decided by a long-serving group of trustees comprising senior academics and representatives of the Lustig family. The administration has changed. BBY Melbourne no longer exists: the scholarship is now a B'nai B'rith Victoria project. Instead of treasurers handling a couple of cheques, the scholarship receives some of its funding from an investment fund managed by the B'nai B'rith Charitable Fund (and from numerous individual donors).
Information technology has wrought changes too. Originally, applicants sent hand-written letters in response to an AJN ad. Now there are detailed guidelines and an extensive application form, submitted by email. Nearly all communications among the trustees are handled electronically.
The purpose of the scholarship has also altered since its early days. The scholarship is now offered in two categories: as a research grant to master’s and doctoral thesis candidates, and as a travel grant to outstanding student leaders at university level, to fund overseas travel to participate in leadership development programs.
Some recent winners have travelled to Israel to participate in short courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Another worked as a deputy speech-writer for the Israeli Mission at the United Nations in New York. A young medical practitioner was assisted to pursue post-graduate research at Harvard University. One winner was a school counsellor researching for a master’s degree in psychology. In 2019, three scholarships were awarded, to an outstanding law student, to a musician preparing a PhD, and to a philosophy graduate who went to Oxford to write a thesis on ethical issues of artificial intelligence.
Click HERE to read the latest (March '20) Newsletter
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