The fighting spirit of Yeshiva College’s head boy

  • SaulJoseph
It’s not often that the head boy of Yeshiva College gets his black belt in karate just before writing matric, but Saul Joseph is no ordinary head boy. With a cool head and passionate energy, he accomplished this level of excellence in his chosen sport before achieving seven distinctions in his final exams.
by TALI FEINBERG | Jan 16, 2020

“Going into the year, my approach was: it’s not about the marks I get, but the mark I make on others’,” says Joseph. “Yes, work was a priority, but so was engaging with the younger grades, keeping active, and seeing friends. You kind of get into a rhythm, and it all gelled together. The experience made me realise that matric isn’t a selfish year. I saw that you grow from growing others.”

His karate training helped him to have the mental strength and stamina to do a lot. “I started karate as an extra mural at school when I was six years old and decided to keep going. It teaches you really strong morals, ethics, and good discipline.”

Getting a black belt requires “hours of training and being mentally prepared – it’s a mentally taxing process”, says Joseph. “But I found that it helped me to focus on my schoolwork for longer periods of time.”

He advises young people to take up karate as it will stand them in good stead in today’s busy world. “It gives you a strong work ethic, discipline, and teaches you how to prioritise.”

He also found that his strong Jewish identity was reflected in the sport. “Judaism is about having restraint, not being aggressive, and looking to make peace instead of war.”

Joseph attended Yeshiva College from the beginning to the end of his school career, and is the second generation of his family to graduate from there.

Deeply invested in the school and its future generations, Joseph dedicated over an hour of every school day to mentoring younger peers, learning Torah with them and inspiring them. This also involved helping them with after-school sports, extra-curricular activities, and homework, and davening Mincha and Maariv at the school’s Mizrachi Beit Midrash (shul).

Joseph also attended almost every Grade 7 Barmitzvah celebration on Shabbat, where he and his peers made sure that every Barmitzvah boy felt like “the king of the world” on his special day and throughout Shabbat. This would begin by attending shul in the morning, continue with lunch and Seudah Shlishit, ending with Havdalah after a long and jubilant Shabbat day.

After completing matric, Joseph headed straight to Bnei Akiva machaneh, where he looked after nine to ten-year-olds, many of them first-time campers.

Proudly and passionately Jewish, Joseph will be attending yeshiva this year, after which he wants to study medicine. His goal is to make aliyah in a few years, and contribute to building the Jewish state.

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