Bernard Lustig Memorial Scholarship winner announced

August 17, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Monash Law student Melanie Koss is the winner of this year’s Bernard Lustig Memorial Scholarship, offered annually by B’nai B’rith Victoria.

Melanie Koss receives her scholarship from Dr Paul Gardner

She was presented with the scholarship by Dr Paul Gardner, the chairman of trustees, at a reception held at the Adele Southwick Centre on Sunday evening.

Ms Koss will soon be leaving for Israel, to take a semester course at Tel Aviv University which will count towards her Monash degree.  She said that she feels a “deep sense of connection” to Israel and that the scholarship would “support me to pursue my academic goals within legal studies”.

Dr Gardner gave the audience some biographical background that led the trustees to award her the Lustig scholarship this year. “Melanie,” he said, “completed her secondary education at Mt Scopus College in 2005, with excellent results.  She then took a gap year to participate in a youth leadership program.  In 2008, she was elected federal president of Hineni Youth, and co-ordinated a leadership program in Israel for 15 youth leaders.

“In 2009, Melanie led a group of a hundred Year 11 students on a March of the Living program in Poland, teaching them about the Holocaust, racism and genocide.

“A very significant experience began the following year, when she lived in Canberra and worked as a political and advocacy advisor in the Israeli Embassy.”

This experience led to glowing reference from a senior Embassy officer, who described her as “a dedicated worker with exceptional abilities…a fine, gifted, young professional leader…one of those persons who can shake, stir and shape things around her.”

Invited by the chairman to describe herself, Ms Koss responded, “I am a driven person, who believes that in order to have a strong sense of direction, it is necessary first to have a strong sense of self. I have always followed that which I am passionate about, and as a result, have been fortunate to have had many incredible opportunities.”

A novel format was introduced into this year’s presentation, when last year’s scholarship winner, Yosl Cylich, now the vice-president of AUJS in Victoria, was asked to give a brief report on his experiences at the Mayanot Institute in Israel. He spoke about what he had learned about hasbara.

The Bernard Lustig Scholarship, established in 1955 to commemorate the president of B’nai B’rith Youth Melbourne after his death in a car accident, is B’nai B’rith Victoria’s longest-running continuous project, and the oldest Jewish scholarship in the state.  After a recent substantial donation from B’nai B’rith Victoria, the value of next year’s scholarship has been increased to $ 2500.

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