An evening with Muhammed Fahili, the charismatic Director of the Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre- photos from the evening available HERE.
Available in the gallery HERE.
Photos from the Purim Party are available in the galery HERE.
All about Ezekiel...
CHILDREN ARE TOPS IN BROMLEY
In 1964 a number of Jewish parents living in the Bromley area became acutely aware of a lack of provision of Jewish education for their children. So was born Bromley and District Reform Synagogue, and although the synagogue now offers myriad services to all strata of our community, the education of our children has always been of paramount importance. As a consequence, we are very proud to boast a superb cheder with excellent resources, and a team of hard-working and talented teachers who are determined to maintain the high standard expected by a community dedicated to the value of education. This was recognised in January 2001, when Bromley was the first synagogue in the Reform movement to be awarded the CJE Certificate of Merit in recognition of the development of Jewish education for the community.
Being a Jew is a matter of birth or conversion. But learning about Jewish values and beliefs, history and traditions, music and literature – the entire glorious mishmash that is the Jewish culture – is a matter of education. While the cheder can skim only the tip of this iceberg, our aim is to impart a feeling of pride in and love for our Jewish heritage. We want our children to feel comfortable with their heritage and, ultimately, to want to pass it on to their own children.
Given the weight placed on the importance of Jewish education in the Bromley community, it is not surprising that our teachers are, for the most part, drawn from the community. All lead very busy lives outside the synagogue but each gives of their time willingly and without complaint. In addition, the expectation is that having completed their cheder education, children continue to come to cheder as class helpers. As a consequence, the classes are staffed by teachers and, where appropriate, by helpers. Having gained invaluable experience “on the job”, many helpers become teachers in their own right and the cheder benefits from their enthusiasm and energy. We all take Hillel’s dictum, “That which you learn, you must teach", very seriously.
Who, what and when?
The cheder comprises eight classes, graduated by age, and one remedial class. At present there are some sixty children aged between five and 13, attending classes, and a dozen or so under-fives, who come with their parents to our Gan Yeladim or kindergarten. We meet each Sunday during term-time, from 10am to 12.30 pm at the synagogue. The morning is divided into two sessions, Jewish Studies and Hebrew.
Knowledge of Hebrew is fundamental to a Jewish education and at Bromley cheder we aim to teach our children not only to read and write in Hebrew but also to have some understanding of what they are reading and writing about. We are fortunate in having the services of an experienced remedial teacher who is available to teach those children with special needs. These range from late-starters in cheder to those with educational or emotional problems. In general, we believe that it is not in the child’s best interest to be removed from their class unless it is absolutely necessary and therefore her brief is to bring the child up to the standard of the rest of the class wherever possible.
As with the Hebrew, Jewish Studies are taught by specialist teachers. Each class has a syllabus carefully designed to reflect the age and abilities of the children. The Jewish Studies syllabus is vast, ranging from Bible stories to study of Torah and Talmud, from the Jewish life-cycle to foods and Kashrut, from the history of our people from Roman times to modern-day Israel – and we still find the time to enjoy and celebrate our festivals!
Assembly and presentations
We have a mid-morning assembly in the shul each week, which the whole cheder attends. We say the Shema and the Shehechyanu, announcements are given and special presentations are made. We also aim to have several Chag (festival) Days during the year when the whole cheder gathers together to celebrate. These might take the form of an activities’ morning, or a model seder or a specially prepared service, but the main point is always to bring the ages together and to encourage the children to feel at home in their cheder and their synagogue.
Class eight (Kittah Chet) is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year at Bromley. Cheder education continues in tandem with the detailed and stretching preparation for the Bar Mitzvah, for which classes are held with the Rabbi before cheder from 9 to10 each Sunday morning during term time. Bar/Bat mitzvah is not a graduation from cheder and our children are expected to continue with their cheder studies until the end of the academic year regardless of the month in which their Bar/Bat Mitzvah takes place. Further information regarding a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Bromley can be obtained from the Synagogue Office.
Music is an important part of our heritage and the children have regular music sessions throughout the year. We aim to prepare the children for several concerts throughout the year to which family and friends are invited. We want our children to experience the richness and variety of Jewish music and, perhaps, to develop an understanding of its place in our history. We teach songs from the siddur and many popular Israeli folk songs so that the children will be comfortable singing in other shuls and with other groups of Jews.
Without reinforcement from within the family, much of what we endeavour to achieve in the cheder is inevitably lost. We at cheder can teach the practices and rituals but it is within the family that they take on life and meaning. Time constraints mean that the cheder is unable to arrange many family events but the synagogue places great importance on families and Jewish education. In addition to the various communal events which do originate in the cheder, the synagogue runs Family Services and other family activities.
Family services are normal Shabbat services but with a difference. They are shorter (1 hour) with lots of participation, less formality, storytelling rather than a haftarah, songs and no sermon. There are sweets for the kids and small gifts for those with birthdays. Toys are available for the very young, and there is a bring-and-share cake kiddush after the service. People of all ages enjoy the atmosphere and families with children can relax and participate fully. There is no need to let us know in advance; just come along (you can obtain the dates from Highlight and e-light, or ask the office).
Safety and Security
The safety of the children is, of course, of paramount importance. Parents organise a rota system whereby each cheder week two parents are responsible for ensuring that the synagogue and its environs are secure. Children are never allowed into the street without adult supervision and teachers must make certain that after cheder each child in their care is collected by a duly authorised adult. Fire drills are carried out at regular intervals throughout the year.
Being Jewish may not begin and it certainly does not end with the cheder, but “feeling” Jewish and taking pride and joy and strength from that feeling is something which we hope we are able to impart to those children whom we have the privilege to teach. Above all, we aim to engender a sense of belonging to a great people - Am Yisrael.
Elka Carr, Head Teacher
©2006-13 Bromley Reform Synagogue.
28 Highland Road, Bromley, BR1 4AD | Tel: 020 8460 5460 | Email: