This academic year has seen lots of excitement at JCoSS in terms of our informal Jewish education and social action programme. We began the year with celebrations of the festivals which included inviting special guests into our sukkah, writing apology notes for Yom Kippur and making honey cake for a homeless shelter for Rosh Hashanah. The year continued with a celebration of Mitzvah day. Students donated hats and scarves to World Jewish Relief and attended a special tea party at the Jewish Blind and Disabled Residence. We launched our Nosh and Natter programme which involved students enjoying lunch and being inspired by the top Rabbis and educators in the country.
The Yoni Jesner Launch was an epic success with more students than ever signing up to be part of the programme. The Yoni Jesner award is run by the Jewish Volunteering Network it allows students to record their hours of volunteering and receive an award if they do 20 or more hours. A particular highlight has been taking a group of students to Limmud Conference for the day. The students led sessions for children and experienced the main conference. This was the first time a school delegation has attended Limmud conference.
To mark Rosh Chodesh, the Jewish new month, JCoSS staff and students attended either a Tefilla (prayer) or self-reflection session instead of their normal first period lesson. This is a unique model of engaging students in prayer and spirituality that caters for students across the religious spectrum including those who are non-practising. There were fourteen different sessions that students signed up for in advance. The sessions included an Orthodox, Masorti and Reform service. In addition there were yoga, philosophy, drama, Israeli dancing , interfaith and a news update options. The sessions were led by outside facilitators who represent the diversity of the Jewish and wider community. Presenters included: Rabbi Michael Pollack, Cantor Jeremy Burko, Cantor Zoe Jacobs, Mayam from the Tony Blair foundation and Movement workers from BBYO and FZY.
Looking ahead the rest of the year will include a Year 7 Shabbaton where students will sleepover at school and experience a Shabbat run by madrichim (leaders) from the various youth movements. The Shabbaton will end with the students running a talent show for children who are severely ill. We have a leadership course for our Year 8 students which will accumulate with students leading informal education sessions for primary school children. Another exciting venture is the launch of our edible garden taking place in the spring term.