Family & Education

Clifton College appoints its first rabbi as chaplain

Rabbi Anna Gerrard will run activities for Jewish students at the Bristol public school


Clifton College in Bristol has appointed its first Jewish chaplain to look after the 32 Jewish students who attend the preparatory and senior school.

She is Rabbi Anna Gerrard, formerly rabbi of Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community and outreach director of Liberal Judaism.

The school maintained a Jewish boarding house, Polack’s, for 127 years until 2005.

After the closure of the house, the school opened the Polack’s Centre to serve the remaining Jewish students and engaged a Jewish life co-ordinator to oversee Friday night dinners, synagogue services and festival celebrations.

Rabbi Gerrard said she was attracted to the position because “ it enables me to build on my experience as a congregational rabbi in a new and different setting”.

The role, she said, was “a unique opportunity because Clifton College is the only boarding school in the country with its own synagogue. Pupils can come to the college and be fully part of wider college life and have a Jewish life here at the same time.”

Her plans include trips for Jewish pupils, establishing closer ties with the city’s Jewish community and possibly adding Hebrew to the curriculum.

She will also be involved in the college’s general religious studies curriculum and speak on topics of Jewish interest at assemblies.

Clifton headmaster Tim Greene said “We are delighted Anna has become the first rabbi to join the chaplaincy team.

“The presence of a strong and vibrant Jewish community within the school has always been a great strength and is part of the heritage of Clifton.”

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