UIA announces winners of the 2021 Masada College Roots Project

July 30, 2021 by Community newsdesk
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UIA has announced the Masada College winners of its 2021 Roots Project.

This year, Year 9 students completed the UIA initiative to win $1,000 towards a ZFA/UIA recognised program to Israel, as well as a Chanukiah, which will remind them of their tree of life.

Two winners were chosen this year – Daniel Belzycki and Zoe Budai. They were announced at an online presentation event on 22 July.

The projects submitted were judged by the Roots Project Committee, including KH-UIA International Women’s Division President, Penny Hurst and former Moriah College teacher, Ruth Jacobs.

“I’ve never done a project as interesting and enjoyable as the Roots Project,” joint winner Zoe Budai said. “I have learned so much about myself, my family and my history. I also learned what it means to be Jewish and how much it impacts my daily life.” Zoe also said she is looking forward to putting the prize money towards the Masada Israel Tour (MIT), which takes place at the end of Year 10.

Fellow winner Daniel Belzycki said: “Winning this project is very meaningful to my family and I because I had the opportunity to learn about and pass on the stories of my family, some of whom had perished in the Holocaust. I spent a lot of time talking to my grandparents and because of this, I have learned so much about my ancestors and their stories.”

“This year’s projects were of an exceptionally high standard and a credit to the school and their families. We commend all the students who participated for their outstanding research as well as those ‘runners up’ who will each receive a Roots medal,” Penny Hurst OAM said.

“Marking these outstanding projects was an absolute privilege for me,” fellow judge, Ruth Jacobs said. “The children’s love of Israel, Judaism and their heritage and culture was exceptional. The spirit of the children shone through, and this will stand them in good stead as future leaders of our community.”

The Roots Project involves students tracing their family history, thereby uncovering interesting facts about their heritage. The research and knowledge gained not only benefits the students but remains a lifelong memory for all the families involved as well. The project also helps to strengthen the students’ connection with Israel. As Penny Hurst OAM said: “It was such a pleasure for me to read how their research further enhanced their love and connection to their Jewish heritage and Israel. This journey, which allowed the students to discover precious stories passed down from generation to generation, is something that we at UIA are so proud of and is at the heart of who we are and what we believe.”

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