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UJIA helps teachers’ links with Israeli counterparts

    A young participant, Liora Bauernfreund, attending Mitzvah Day Mummies (Photo: Yakir Zur)
    A young participant, Liora Bauernfreund, attending Mitzvah Day Mummies (Photo: Yakir Zur)

    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.

    “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.

    I watched the children playing in the air raid shelter

    “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.

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