Together with Sara Perlmutter, the Board’s Education Development Manager, I recently delivered the first of three sessions on Judaism to year 10 pupils at the London Academy in Stanmore. Focusing on the theme of Diversity, nearly 200 boys and girls aged 14-15, many of whom follow the Muslim faith, heard our own personal stories. Our backgrounds, while being very similar regarding our parents’ and grandparent’s roots, differed greatly as children and adults. It was important to explain how we have different experiences of being Jews in the UK, yet share the same intrinsic identity, culture and practices.
It is so important to send the message to all school children that we Jews are British citizens who adhere to the laws of the land, and who say prayers every Shabbat for the Queen and her ministers – especially to those children from families who themselves may have come to the UK as immigrants. Giving a flavour of our own personal stories, Sara and I described how our grandparents came from Poland and Russia, and the trades they followed. We introduced the concept of the importance of Jewish family life and explained our beliefs and practices. We stressed how we do not encourage people to convert to Judaism, but readily welcome people who are passionate about doing this.
As adults, Sara and I have followed very different Jewish paths, and yet we have both come together in a common purpose – to help promote understanding and respect for our faith so that non-Jewish schoolchildren can withstand any possible negative views and influence they may encounter as they move through school and university. This point was strongly reinforced to the children during our session. Today in our universities, there are many instances of Jewish students fighting antisemitism, and only through education can we combat this ideology of race-hate.
Vice President, Chair Community and Education