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The JC letters page, 1st December

Karen Cohen, Ben Konopinski, Simon Johnson , Garry Horne, Ron Goldstein, Mark Novick and Gary Mond share their views with JC readers

    Photo: Getty Images
    Photo: Getty Images

    Working hard for change

    Since I joined Clore Shalom School in January, we have worked hard to establish a strong group of teachers, support staff and leadership team, all of whom have shown incredible dedication in implementing the changes that we have highlighted as needing to be made.

    While we are all disappointed with the final verdict of the recent Ofsted report (that you reported on last week), the content itself acknowledges the significant progress that we have made in 2017, particularly this academic year. The inspectors make it clear that the changes we have made are making a difference; it is just unfortunate that the inspection came too early in our journey to provide the evidence. I am pleased with the direction we are going but appreciate we still have lots of hard work to do.

    As a school, we are fortunate that we are also a community. The feedback given to Ofsted by parents, and to us since, shows that they are happy that their children are at the school.

    Had this inspection been made in six months’ time, I have no doubt that we would have been rated as a good school. Myself, my deputy head, my assistant head and a number of our teachers have all recently joined from “outstanding” schools. Along with the rest of our colleagues, we share a common goal to get Clore Shalom back to the level that we are used to working at. This report shows that we are already making progress.

    Hopefully, current and prospective parents will be rational enough to judge us on where we are going, not where we have been.

    Mrs Karen Cohen
    Headteacher, 
    Clore Shalom School
    Shenley, Herts 

     
    In response to the article entitled Clore Shalom still requires improvement, I feel it is necessary as a parent to add some context for your readers.

    The article and headline is a little misleading, although correct. Ofsted did visit the school and graded it as “Requires Improvement”.  What is not stated is that, after the previous Ofsted visit in 2015, when Clore Shalom first received a “Requires Improvement”, Ofsted was obliged to revisit within approximately two years. When the visit happened on September 27, the school was only 15 days into the new school year. As

    Ofsted can only look at work from that school year, there was hardly enough time to showcase the remarkable changes that have taken place.

    With that in mind, all the teachers have been doing a fantastic job in the short time since Mrs Cohen arrived and started instigating changes, but they are not miracle workers.

    All the parents who attended a post-Ofsted meeting at the school are 100 per cent behind the management, teachers and the school and have every confidence that Clore Shalom will become an “Outstanding” school in Ofsted’s view.

    We as parents already know how outstanding it is!

    Ben Konopinski
    Borehamwood, Herts


    Celebrations 

    Over the past month, the entire community proudly marked the Balfour Centenary and the JLC is equally proud that more than 160 events around the country engaged thousands of people in celebration of a decisive milestone in Zionist history.

    The Steering Group, inspired by Lord Rothschild and comprising 23 organisations, made sure that every community across the country was able to mark the centenary. 

    The Balfour Centenary Fund made more than 50 grants to organisations large and small in order to hold Balfour centenary events. These took place nationwide from Bournemouth to Glasgow and from Belfast to the Isle of Man. Special educational programmes were delivered in 20 schools, as diverse as City of London and King David in Liverpool. 

    Over 2,000 people saw the live screening of the Balfour Centenary Lecture by Simon Schama. Three hundred synagogues used the special educational materials that were designed for the event.

    When we announce the events that are being organised to celebrate Israel 70, we will build on the scale of the Balfour Centenary and ensure that the community is once again able to come together in a joyful atmosphere and in large numbers to celebrate this important milestone.

    Simon Johnson 
    Chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council


    Yiddishkeit

    Further to the letter from Barry Hyman (Nov 17) I am reminded of a story about the people living in the East End of London many years ago.

    Visits to the doctor could be quite expensive. Therefore, some people would telephone and describe their symptoms in very onomatopoeic prose! Thus Iz hakt mir in kop (my head is banging) Iz zhuzhet mir in linken elenbogen (I have this vibrating pain in my left elbow) Iz boorchet mir in buch (I have this probing boring pain in my stomach) Iz veitikdik mir in pyates (my heels hurt)

    I am sure there must be many more.

    Garry Horne
    Radlett, Herts


    A  reason why

    In last week’s JC, one of your letter-writers asks: “Why do we have a separate event from National Remembrance Sunday ?”

    As a 94-year-old, Second World War veteran who, over the past 70 odd years, has marched in both parades I feel more than qualified to answer her query with at least one good reason. 

    I was one of five serving brothers, one of whom, Sgt. Jack Goldstein, was a Mid Upper Gunner in Bomber Command. 
    Jack, z’l, was to perish in the skies over Nuremberg during the closing stages of the war.

    At last week’s Ajex parade, in union with all the participants, I was able to recite a Kaddish for him, something that I was never able to do at the National Ceremony the previous Sunday.

    Lest we forget!

    Ron Goldstein
    ex 4th Queen’s Own Hussars
    Barnet, Herts


    An antidote to BDS

    I recently returned from a special visit to Israel. “Make A Difference” — a volunteering programme conceived, planned, and meticulously carried out by the UJIA, is the reason I am on a “high”.

    Reaching retirement, I fancied volunteering in Israel. However, when I made enquiries to various communal organisations, either volunteer programmes did not exist or the programmes were not suitable due to the content or my age.

    Subsequently, I read a story headlined: “Bennett details plans to raise English speaking standards in schools”. Although I was not seeking a permanent, paid position, I began to envisage the possibility of volunteering as a teaching assistant during a visit to Israel.

    Remarkably, within days of reading this article, a story appeared in the JC publicising the UJIA’s “Make A Difference” volunteering week in the Galil. 

    There were four volunteering tracks, of which one was based at the Shlomi Ort School. The goals of the week were to strengthen English skills while helping the students  prepare for a debate in English. 

    The unprecedented experience for me of helping teenage students in a classroom is a memory I shall always cherish. At the end of the week, there was a feeling among the students, teachers and volunteers that our presence had been beneficial and significant.

    In addition to our volunteering activities, we were introduced to wonderful UJIA  personnel living in the Galil, dedicated to projects transforming life in the northern periphery of Israel. We were treated to sightseeing, lectures, meeting Gaby Na’aman, Mayor of Shlomi and socialising with host families.

    It was a privilege to participate in the inaugural “Make A Difference “ programme. The UJIA wants to enlarge and repeat the programme on a permanent basis. I am eager to volunteer again on this programme in order to strengthen my links to Israel and the Galil in particular.

    If you have thought of volunteering in Israel, contact Melanie Kelly at the UJIA.

    Mark Novick
    London NW7


    Keeping a cool head

    I am a board member of Conservative Friends of Israel and am writing in response to Michael Gross’s highly insulting remarks about Stuart Polak (Letters, November 23).

    There can be few people involved in politics over the past 25 years who have done as much good work for the Jewish community as Lord Polak. He has organised the visits of hundreds of Conservative MPs and other politicians to Israel, enabling them to find out so much about the country, meeting its politicians, visiting its businesses and learning about the military challenges that it faces. 

    This has helped ensure that Conservative MPs, unlike so many of their opponents, have a balanced and informed view of Israel and the challenges of the Middle East. Without this work, it is very probable that the Conservative Party would today have similar problems as the Labour Party does with anti-Zionism.

    As regards the Priti Patel trip to Israel itself, the potential damage that it is alleged to have caused has been blown up out of all proportion, both by Mr Gross and by your newspaper. Language such as “reprehensible aspects”, “unbelievable stupidity” and “irreparable damage” are wholly inappropriate, as will be seen in the months and years ahead, when CFI will continue its great work.

    The comments in the JC on  November 9 from an unnamed  “senior communal figure” that the incident “will set us back 20 years” can only be described as hysterical rubbish. Those of us with cool heads know perfectly well that, had the meetings taken place between Ms Patel and ministers from any country other than Israel, the matter would not have even been newsworthy, and certainly would not have led to her resignation. 

    Finally, the issue of overseas aid budget monies being used to help fund a relief effort for Syrian refugees in the Golan Heights. An impartial observer would note that Israel’s efforts in this regard are very successful. If the objective of overseas aid is to help in such situations, rather than conforming to political niceties, then working with Israel — and the IDF — is potentially beneficial and should be explored further.

    Gary Mond 
    London NW7

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