Sunday, 16 June 2013

A School that Cares

Today hundreds of people gathered in Carlton Drive to relive old memories of Ilford Jewish Primary School since IJPS is relocating to a new state-of-the-art building on the King Solomon site. It was an amazing event to see so many generations of past pupils, teachers and parents associated with the school, entertained as ever by the IJPS choir and the singing of 'Na'aseh Venishma'. I went because I am eternally grateful for the start IJPS gave me in life, not just academically but Jewishly, and I attribute my observance - and enjoyment - of Shabbat, building a Sukkah and learning Torah to the education I received here.

If I had to define what made the event special, it was that an extra level of care and dedication had been taken to ensure that the school was adorned with pictures, year books and memorabilia from decades of school life. No effort was spared in making this event an appropriate end to an era in the life of the school. And when reflecting on IJPS in general, it is that spirit of community passion that has allowed it to thrive all these years, producing children who take pride in their Jewish identity and care for their community. I see this with my friends and I see this in the students I teach at King Solomon.

Behind this achievement lies a greater achievement. IJPS has been met with many challenges in the last fifteen years yet it is coming through them. The challenge of welcoming students from other faiths and making them feel proud of their school whilst still retaining a strong Jewish ethos has been great. Yet it seems to be working, for there is no change in the amount or quality of Limmudei Kodesh being taught, and the presence of non-Jewish children in the choir highlighted their families' desire to be part of the IJPS community.

The key to Jewish education, however challenging the situation in which it must be done in, is to maintain an absolute pride and belief in what you stand for. If you respect your ethos, others will respect it too. IJPS is a school where people go to great lengths to run events like these, where governor elections are contested and where past students speak fondly of Demonstration Sedarim, Israeli dancing and swimming galas. It is a cornerstone of the Redbridge Jewish community and it deserves its new building, which will rejuvenate the school and take it to further heights.

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