UJIA helps teachers’ links with Israeli counterparts

Teachers work out their timetable

Teachers work out their timetable

Schoolteachers who have just returned from a UJIA-organised tour to Israel have described the current situation as “surreal”.

The 22-strong group of Jewish and non-Jewish teachers from seven Jewish schools in the UK, participated in the programme’s six-day seminar, which included tours around Jerusalem and teaching lessons at partner schools.

Matthew Neat, assistant headteacher at Clore Tikva Primary School in Redbridge, said: “This was my first time visiting Israel. The first thing that struck me was how different it was [from what we see] in the news. We did a multicultural tour of Jerusalem, and to see the Arab and Jews together was something that I really didn’t expect.”

However, the situation has changed since the group’s return.

I watched the children playing in the air raid shelter

“Two weeks was a long time ago,” Mr Neat added. “It’s sad and very surreal to think that two weeks ago it was a happy, peaceful and beautiful place to be in.

“The highlight for me was visiting out partner school [Kerner primary school in Meona]. When we were there, the school had turned the shelter into a play area with dressing-up clothes.

“[Watching the news] my first thought was that the children were sitting and dressing up — in the shelter.”

Jaskirn Singh, a reception teacher at Clore Tikva, who also visited Israel for the first time, added: “I went to Israel with open eyes – I left all pre-expectations at Heathrow airport.”

Gideon Lyons, 37, a Jewish biology teacher at JCoss, said: “Before I went I did wonder if this trip would be a coach and sightseeing trip, but it was completely different.

“I gave an assembly at our partner school, [the Western Galilee Regional secondary school in the northern Kabri town on the Lebanese border], and we got a feel for the education system in Israel.

“The student-teacher relationships are much closer than here, but the teenagers have a lot in common”.

Dr Helena Miller, director of research and evaluation and Living Bridge programmes at UJIA, said: “This project makes real people-to-people links. Strong professional relationships are formed and this programme has real added value for the schools in both countries.”

Multifaith seminars, education and coexistence lessons were a focal part of this UJIA senior educators’ mission, which took place from October 28 – November 2.

Teachers from Brodetsky Primary, Clore Tikva, Clore Shalom, King David in Manchester, JCoss, King David in Liverpool and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue nursery participated in the trip.

Last updated: 4:45pm, November 22 2012