It has been a busy half term for IJE with a range of our regular activities underway and a few special projects taking place too. Our Year 8 volunteering programme has started, with students undertaking to volunteer in our neighbouring primary school or a local Jewish Care day centre. The intention is that each student in Y8 does an hour of volunteering with school over the year and hopefully is inspired to continue in their own time.
Students are also involved in cooking for a local homeless shelter on a weekly basis at school through our Manna from Heaven programme which takes place at lunchtime.
We have also had some interesting and challenging visits to school, including the organisation Parallel Histories who organised a fascinating debate between boys from Abrar Muslim Academy, Lancaster Grammar School and JCoSS students on different elements of Israel’s history. The challenge was that the students had to speak for the ‘other’ side, and challenge themselves to debate thoughtfully and respectfully for a position they may not personally agree with.
In a similar vein, we were also visited by another debating organisation, this time from Israel, called Debate for Peace. The students from this organisation represented a wide range of Jewish and Arab life in Israel and spent the day at JCoSS modelling the discussion and debating skills they had learned through weekly engagement with each other in Israel, taking frank and often wildly opposing positions but always with thought, respect and honesty.
We were also delighted to welcome representatives from all the Zionist youth movements to school to promote their Israel tours. Year 11 might feel that the summer is a long way off, but they were here to remind them that it really is just around the corner.
Our second cohort of the JCoSS 6th Form Leadership Academy is also underway, with students coming together once a fortnight to develop their leadership skills and to work on projects both within and beyond school. Now in its second year, the Academy continues to offer high level leadership training for JCoSS students to be able to implement in all aspects of school life and beyond. The first cohort, now in Y13 also took part in a follow up seminar which included visits to both J-Hub and JW3, giving them a chance to look at models of leadership in practice within the Jewish community. It was a stimulating and inspiring day for all involved.
Our Alan Senitt Leadership programme cohort for Year 10 have now been selected and have started on a series of seminars which all take place within an interfaith context – allowing them to learn and work with students from a wide range of other schools on a social action project.
We continue to offer a range of interfaith opportunities for students, with our annual Interfaith week project taking place in conjunction with Lady Nafisa School. Students worked together to create meals for a foodbank as well as getting to know each other with a series of activities.
Our ongoing school linking projects are also taking place in Years 8 and 9 with students having the opportunity to get to know their peers from other faith schools in a series of meetings over the school year.
Finally our Chanukah celebrations this year had a big emphasis on fundraising for the school charities. With the great JCoSS doughnut sale (over a thousand doughnuts sold!), a special Yom Tzedakah and a non uniform day, record
amounts were raised over the festive period.
And last, but certainly not least, a huge welcome to the IJE team to Ms Luz Toff, our newest Informal Jewish educator.