Walking to learn - holding hands along the way

As we walk through the omer, I will be walking through some ideas that have inspired or guided me as a teacher/ educator/ empowerer and I welcome your thoughts/ additions! 
This third thought is one very close to my heart. For a few years now I've been developing an interfaith youth programme at West London Synagogue, working with a Muslim supplementary school. It is quite a unique programme, a very special way to encourage teens to stay involved, and more importantly, a brilliant way to explore their own identities while also understanding others who make up the patchwork of British Society. 
It's not always been understood by Jewish and Muslim families why this should be a part of their child's religious education, but pedagogically it makes perfect sense. I know from my own lived experience that my Jewish identity and knowledge has always been strengthened and deepened when I have been in conversation with those who perhaps don't know anything about Judaism or who have lots of questions about it. In trying to find answers for others I was forced to find answers for myself, and dialogue has always made me a more confident Jew, as well as helping me understand others. 
The programme was also designed to give students time to explore their identities within their faith communities so that they felt more confident in their own self-expression before meeting; often we are uncomfortable with someone who is different to us because we aren't confident in ourselves, so we hoped to boost knowledge and confidence to avoid any sense of defensiveness. 
Identity is an incredibly complicated thing to navigate today. Synagogues and schools are increasingly entrusted with forming our students Judaism, something that should be done in partnership with families. For me a key part of this is ensuring it is an identity that doesn't feel threatened by the other, or by difference, that can confidently engage in debate and discussion, and that is committed to working with other communities for everyone's benefit. So while dialogue might not be an obvious part of Jewish education, I think it is a crucial part.


  1. I can only speak as a person beginning her formal conversion process, but can affirm that dialogue is so essential to my deepening sense of myself as Reform Jew.


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