Jewish Studies at Naima JPS
The Biblical Mitzvah of family education is both simple and explicit in terms of transferring Torah values.
Teach them thoroughly to your children, speaking of them when you are at home and away, morning and night
If a father wishes to study Torah, says Maimonides (Mishna Torah, Laws of Torah Study 1:4), and he has a child who must also learn, the father takes precedence.
However, if the child is more insightful, or quicker to grasp what there is to be learned, the child takes precedence. Although the child gains priority the father must not ignore his own study. Just as it is a Mitzvah to educate the child, so too is the father commanded to teach himself.
Maimonides thus defines Jewish study as a concern for both parents and children. The parent must provide for the study of the child while also attending to his own study. It is a ‘family Mitzvah’, a ‘family commandment’ and concern. Thus throughout Jewish tradition, beginning with the commandment to retell the Passover story to our children, ‘this is what G-d did for me when I went out from Egypt’ (Exodus 13:8); there is repeated concern for the education of the entire family.
Given that formal Jewish education of children was transferred, in the main, from the house to the school and is now often left entirely in the hands of the school, the impact is telling. Himmelfarb writes: “Without the encouragement and reinforcement from the home, it is extremely unlikely that Jewish schools will have any lasting impact on their students. If the home provides the necessary encouragement and reinforcement, Jewish schooling can increase the level of Jewish commitment in the house. These two institutes need each other. The effort of one without the other is likely to produce only slight results.”
Bock endorses this when he writes:
Personal Jewishness (such as religious observance, Jewish self-esteem, participation in informal social networks and cultural perceptions) is mainly influenced by Jewishness of home background. To the extent that Jewish schooling is important, home background is many times more important.
We, at Naima JPS, recognise this and therefore in addition to our formal curriculum we offer a rich informal curriculum and extra curricular opportunities that include and involve the family and the wider community. We do this in a number of ways some of which are identified below.
Reading from the Torah/D’Var Torah
Boys are encouraged to read a portion from the Torah.
When they are competent in reading they will be asked to read at our extended Tefillah session on a Monday morning in the Saatchi Synagogue. Girls are also given the opportunity to read out a D'var Torah or D'var Halachah and parents are invited to attend this service.
Workshops before the Hagim
Parents of pupils in KS2 are invited to participate in workshops before many of the Hagim together with their children.
These usually take place before Rosh Hashanah and Pesach but opportunities to come into school and learn also take place on a rotational basis for Succot, Tu Bishvat and Shavuot.
Parents of pupils in KS1 are invited to a Pesach sing a long and all parents are invited to watch Hannukah performances.
Parents in Years Three and Four are invited to join their children on Wednesday mornings for an informal learning session given by a selection of in house and guest speakers on the weekly Torah portion or another topical subject.
Refreshments are provided.
Together with schools and Synagogues around the UK, Naima JPS proudly participates in Shabbat UK with a slew of activities for pupils and families.
Each year the school holds a number of Shabbatonim.
Each event focuses on one year group and families are invited to attend. The events are always very popular with a wide range of activities for the whole family.
Hagigat HaSiddur and Hagigat HaHumash
Our pupils in Years 1 and 2 prepare extensively for the milestone of receiving their very first Siddur and Humash.
Parents and grandparents are invited to attend the ceremony. There is a talk for parents prior to the event explaining the significance behind this milestone.