06-hamakom_2016_03HaMakom (“The Place”) is the first pluralistic religion school in the UK and takes place at Bessborough Road.

Children aged from 5 to 18 get a wide and grounded Jewish education, study for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah in a way suitable for each synagogue, and can then take part in our Kabbalat Torah programme and become Assistant Teachers.  Our religion school is inclusive and accepting.

We aim to teach children from pre-school to 18. The post Bar/Bat Mitvah programme in particular explores the Liberal, Reform and Masorti perspective of Torah, Jewish Ethics, Jewish History and the Holocaust as well as Tikkun Olam – social action issues.  There are two things we aim to give our children: a love and emotional attachment to Judaism, and the knowledge and educational tools to equip them to practice their Judaism.  If they love Judaism, they will continue to learn for the rest of their lives.

This is one of the most exciting and innovative steps taken for many years.  Our plans include providing children who attend Jewish Day Schools with the one thing those schools cannot provide – a connection with their own synagogue and community.  The programme we have developed will, we hope, be stimulating and enjoyable so that these children will want and demand to be part of HaMakom, even though they are also in a Jewish school environment the rest of the week.

For further information about HaMakom, please contact our headteacher or chair of the school governors

Aims and Ethos of HaMakom

HaMakom reflects the coming together of our communities to educate our children and young adults in Progressive Judaism. As a pluralistic school, we fully respect and honour  Liberal, Reform and Masorti approaches and values with respect to Jewish practice and status/descent.

Our Mission Statement: Instilling a love for Judaism and a feeling of belonging to a community so that students who attend HaMakom should emerge with attitudes and tools which will enable them to access Judaism both formally and informally at any point in their lives.

HaMakom aims:

  • To create and foster a sense of Jewish identity and commitment, manifested in seeking further learning and maintaining involvement in Judaism throughout the lives of its students
  • To teach a core knowledge of Judaism within the areas of Jewish practice, history and Hebrew with sensitivity to the differing stages of a student’s cognitive, social and emotional development
  • To imbue the pupils with a clear sense of positive and life enhancing ethical values, by way of learning and in their behaviour in the class, such as sharing, generosity, compassion and fairness
  • To introduce the students to the challenges of becoming knowledgeable, independently enquiring, committed and socially involved Jews
  • To develop students’ potential for enhanced spiritual growth by:
    Developing awareness of the fundamental questions of life raised by human experiences and how Jewish teachings relate to them
    Reflecting on their own beliefs, values and experiences in the light of study
    Enabling pupils to participate fully in services and congregational life
    Developing an understanding of Jewish values that help them to form their own informed, independent decisions regarding moral issues
  • To develop a Jewish perspective on other faith communities that they may encounter, so that they may live confidently as Jews in a pluralistic society, comfortable in their interaction with those of other faiths or no faith while maintaining a positive attitude to being Jewish
  • To include informal and creative opportunities with an awareness of and sensitivity to the needs and interest of young people, both in the context of  classroom learning and in the synagogue
  • To enable students to participate meaningfully in services and synagogue life
  • To utilize and develop the strengths and interests of the staff members and volunteers, value them as individuals and facilitate their development as educators

During the first two months of 2015 each class had their parents morning. Parents are invited in to work in the classroom with their children and experience a morning at HaMakom. They also had a chance to talk to the class teacher and myself about anything which they may be concerned about. There was a lot of well earned praise and many positive comments for all the teachers and assistants.

Kitah Dalet helped Rabbi Frank take the Friday night service at Mosaic Liberal Synagogue in February. Parents and Grandparents as well as their Teacher Miriam Smith were rightly very proud of them. This was the first time that most of them had stood in front of a congregation to read both Hebrew and English as they led the prayers.   The experience of doing this is invaluable in giving them the confidence they will need in a few years’ time for their B’nei mitzvah.

We had two special guests this term. The first was from the Six Point Foundation. Six Point Foundation makes grants to provide Holocaust survivors and refugees of Jewish origin, who are resident in the UK and who are facing difficult financial circumstances, with extra support so that they can live a better life. They told us about the Better Life Poster Competition they are running to give people the opportunity to think about and celebrate what is – and can be – done, to make all older people’s (age 70+) lives better. Various classes at HaMakom have created posters for this, I’ll keep you posted on whether we win any of the categories. Meanwhile here are a few of the entries.

The second was Gabriel Webber who came from LJY and ran a session on Tikkun Kehila for all classes from Alef to Hay.  Everyone had to make a word cloud for our synagogues.  We have been lucky enough to have representatives from the youth departments of our different movements come down to HaMakom and run sessions for us on a number of occasions.

We will be hearing Freddie Knowller, a Holocaust Survivor,  talk to our older pupils at HaMakom all parents and other adults from all the communities are invited to hear his fascinating story.