Finchley shuts cheder to boost learning

October 29, 2009

In an effort to buck the trend of falling cheder attendance, Finchley Reform Synagogue is replacing its religion school with a new learning programme, Kochavim.

Launched next week, the programme is intended to offer “a cutting edge experiential style of education”. Pupils will choose from a range of modules relating to Jewish life — and once a month will be joined by parents in their activities.

Modules include a Jewish book club, social action projects, learning through prayer and singing and a virtual Israel scheme, an amalgam of history, geography and IT skills. Jewish cooking, arts and crafts and dance are among other Kochavim topics.

Hebrew will remain an integral element, with modules such as “Lightning Learning” — imparting knowledge in short sharp bursts — or sessions tailored to those with an Ivrit speaker at home.

“FRS has acknowledged that the old style of cheder was no longer working,” said the shul’s education director Debbie Juggler. “It didn’t guarantee the future involvement of families in the community. We don’t want kids simply disappearing after bar- and batmitzvah, so this is partly an attempt to build closer connections with communal life. We want to make families aware that Judaism is not an experience just for Sunday morning — it’s a life experience. They will be learning skills and gaining knowledge that can be utilised to lead a rich Jewish life.”

Last updated: 5:37pm, October 29 2009