North West Surrey Synagogue (NWSS) is a constituent member of the Movement for Reform Judaism, which means we aim to be open and inclusive while practising the traditional Jewish values of learning, caring for each other and praying together. The community consists of about three hundred members (families, couples, individuals) from across Surrey, SW London, South Berkshire and North Hampshire with diverse backgrounds, needs and interests, which makes for an interesting and lively community.
Rabbi Kath Vardi joined us as our fourth full-time permanent rabbi in summer 2017. She brings great enthusiasm to the community. Encouraging families to take part in a range of activities that work for them is one of her priorities. We have established close links with other communities in the area including Kingston Liberal, Staines United and Wimbledon Reform and there is scope for the successful candidate to build on these links. 2018 marks our fiftieth anniversary which we will be celebrating throughout the year.
NWSS has a cheder of about 40 pupils, from 5 years old to post-Bnei Mitzvah. Over the next 18 months the Synagogue will be undertaking a fundamental review of what the community expects and wants of its Cheder.
So NWSS is now looking for a person to lead the Cheder during this period. This will be a period of appropriate evolution and development, which may (or may not) lead to more fundamental changes. This is therefore an appointment for two years (for an exceptional candidate we will consider a 12 or 18 month contract), although the contract will be renewable by mutual agreement with a revised job description following from any changes in our Cheder which this review recommends.
Our students receive an all-round Jewish education which includes Hebrew (with a view to fluent siddur reading), bible studies, ethics, Jewish history, festivals and rituals. We encourage our children to study together, believing that cheder should be an introduction to the value of community, and our children make lasting friends at cheder. Two of our teachers came through our cheder and all our teaching assistants are teenagers who completed cheder to age 15.
We encourage parents to bring their children to the Synagogue on a Sunday morning from a young age so they can make friends, and we have a fully stocked crèche room available for families. Parents often stay to chat in ‘Harry’s Bar’ (our Sunday morning coffee bar) where they can buy coffee and bagels.
The cheder morning starts with the shachrit service in the main sanctuary and we encourage parents to join us, the children then go upstairs to well appointed classrooms for Hebrew and Jewish studies. Parents and children are very positive about cheder – one parent said recently ‘ I hated going to cheder but my children love it.’ We have a part-time Cheder Administrator to manage the non-teaching aspects of the Cheder (a post currently filled by a former Cheder student).
The Cheder Head Position
The Cheder Head will be a member of the Cheder Management Team (CMT) and will be responsible for the overall educational and communal aspects of Cheder. S/he will work closely with Rabbi Vardi and the Cheder administrator to ensure the continuation of an atmosphere that is conducive to learning for our younger members. Specific aspects of the job, undertaken with or delegated from the CMT, include:
- Recruitment, training and encouragement of teachers and classroom assistants;
- Guidance to teaching staff as needed to support them in lesson planning, classroom activities and personal development;
- Curriculum development and its application;
- Teaching as and when necessary on a Sunday morning (with a full staff this will be a fill-in role but if we do not recruit a full staff the Head may have a more specific teaching role).
The Head will report formally to the Synagogue Council via the Chairman (or designated Council Representative). The Rabbi will provide guidance and advice on areas of study and will, with the senior teachers, administrator and representative of Council be part of the Cheder Management Team which meets regularly.
All staff and assistants are encouraged to participate fully in the cheder through staff meetings.
The post is part-time (average of two days per week, some of which may be worked from home and which will vary during the year) and is subject to a probationary period of six months, which could include any training proposed by the appointment panel at the time of interview. There is scope for this position to be a job share, but one person must be at cheder every Sunday morning. In the event of a job share roles would be agreed between the Synagogue Chair and Rabbi and the successful candidates.
The person appointed must understand the principles behind safeguarding and safe recruitment, and ensure all staff connected with the Cheder adhere to the principles of safeguarding and equal opportunities. The synagogue will ensure they are offered continuing professional development to stay abreast of areas such as safeguarding.
The successful candidate will:
- Benefit from having substantial teaching and educational management experience;
- Be aware of and sympathetic to the approach of Progressive Judaism and to the pastoral and academic welfare of pupils, families and teachers;
- Be able to deliver an inclusive education for all families of the Community;
- Be willing to work with all stakeholders to develop further the provision at NWSS;
- Be able to show an on-going commitment to his or her professional development and to that of others
The successful candidate must be:
- A strong communicator
- Experienced in working with different age groups and backgrounds
- Willing to promote the cheder across the community and beyond
- Able to build strong working relationships with the Rabbi and Council.
A salary of £14,000 per annum is offered, plus appropriate expenses and holiday entitlement pro-rata to 28 days (5.6 weeks) full time.
Salary and expenses will be subject to annual review by the Synagogue Remuneration Committee.
Other employment by the Cheder Head must be approved by their line manager to ensure that it does not prevent the Head from fulfilling their responsibilities in this role.
Please contact the Cheder Administrator at Cheder@NWSS.org.uk for an application form.
Closing date for applications is June 15 2018.