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Bromley Reform helps schoolchildren get a taste of Jewish life

Upwards of 700 people, comprising 600+ local children plus teachers and other non-Jewish adults, were able to increase their knowledge of Judaism in an accessible and friendly environment when Bromley Reform Synagogue (BRS) hosted the Board of Deputies’ Jewish Living Experience Exhibition (JLEE).

The interactive exhibition – designed to help non-Jews learn about the Jewish way of life and all its diversity – ran for two weeks in the synagogue’s sanctuary.

Topics covered included the Jewish calendar and festivals, life cycle events, Shabbat, religious and cultural dress, the Torah, kosher food and the differences between Jewish denominations. As well as reading colourful banners, children were able to handle items such as a yad, dreidels and shofarot, as well as re-enacting Shabbat and wedding rituals.

The overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic reaction of the visitors brought many moments of delight – much needed in these troubled and troubling times – to the BRS members who had volunteered to act as guides and to answer pupils’ and teachers’ questions.

Bromley Reform Synagogue’s catchment area includes South-East London and the whole of Kent – with members coming everywhere from Sevenoaks to Canterbury and Greenhithe to Gravesend, as well as Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark and other adjacent boroughs. Many of them helped with the exhibition and preparing the synagogue itself to add further insight.

The Board of Deputies’ two copies of this travelling exhibition are regularly hosted by organisations all over the UK, including churches, libraries, synagogues, Jewish social care organisations (for staff training), town councils, universities and teacher training centres.

Board President Marie van der Zyl said: “The exhibition is a wonderful way to demonstrate and explain Jewish festivals, culture and traditions to children and adults alike.”

The JLEE is due to be held in Chelmsford, Hounslow, Edge Hill University, Edgware and Salford in the near future.

  1. Photo:  Members of BRS Klezmer Group welcome visitors at the JLEE launch event.
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