Introduction

Our Cheder is an important and integral part of our community. Attendance is free to members’ children. We normally take children who have started regular school and go up to Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We aim to work together with parents to promote the values of Liberal Judaism. We are in process of establishing a Parent-Teacher-Association to ensure channels of communication are open and perhaps to help with fundraising.

Class Organisation and Staffing

There are currently five classes and membership of class groups is determined both by the age of the children and the standard reached. We are fortunate in having a team of teachers who are very experienced in teaching Cheder and in most cases qualified and experienced in teaching in general education. We have also in several instances been assisted by volunteer parents in giving individual lessons to children who have started Cheder late and need to catch up with their peer group. In general we try to take account of individual children's needs in our teaching. 

Curriculum

Teaching time is from 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm normally once a fortnight on a Saturday afternoon. There is a fifteen minute break in the middle, when the children have a snack produced by parents on a rota.

The first half till break is devoted to Hebrew.

  • The youngest children are taught by Nancy Lynner, who teaches Alef Bet in all sorts of fun ways. 
  • The second class will be taught by our new recruit, Dan Hershon. With Dan the the children will learn to read Hebrew syllables.
  • The third class is taught by Joanna Bleau. The children use a book that incorporates reading real words and simpler items from the liturgy.
  • Wendy Crane teaches the fourth class, using a book that looks at whole prayers from the liturgy, with more concentration on details of the meaning than in the earlier classes and some introduction to the structure of Hebrew as a language.
  • Norman Crane teaches the pre-Bar/Bar Mitzvah class, using the same kind of material as Wendy, but moving on to a more advanced level preparatory to the student learning their Bar/Bat Mitzvah pieces and leading the congregation in prayer.

All the books we use come from North America as the Jewish population in the UK is not big enough to support the production of our own materials. The books are widely used in Chedarim and Jewish Day Schools throughout North America and the UK. Our emphasis is to go beyond simple decoding and deal with the meaning and values expressed in the reading material.

After the break, content of the lessons and arrangement of classes is more fluid. We teach the Festivals, Jewish life, ceremonies and ethics. History is taught, with all but the oldest children mainly by stories from the Bible and elsewhere.The emphasis is always on a Liberal perspective. Teaching style in the second half can be more relaxed. The children do art and craft work where appropriate, as well as some singing and dancing. We occasionally have guest teachers to take a particular session. Sometimes all the children come together for these activities.

Throughout Cheder we are keenly aware that different families have different practices and we are careful always not to be prescriptive.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

It is the policy of the Rabbi and Synagogue Council that children should normally attend Cheder and services for a period of at least two years before the ceremony. Parents discuss Bar/Bat Mitzvah arrangements with the Rabbi.

 

Communications

Once children have been enrolled parents will normally be informed of dates times and locations of cheder sessions etc. via the cheder email list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). All parents must be signed up for this list. If you are not already a member you should go to http://list.eljc.org/mailman/listinfo/cheder and follow the instructions to sign up.

You can also keep up to date with cheder schedule and locations on the ELJC website (www.eljc.org).  Click on the “Cradle to Grave” menu item  and follow the link to the Cheder Page.

We are happy to speak to parents about their children on any Cheder day. Please avoid speaking to teachers during lessons, or entering a class during teaching time,  but any time before or after, and during break, is fine.

This year we are intending to attempt setting regular homework as young children very easily forget what they have learned with two weeks or more between lessons. The hope is that parents will encourage and help their children with the homework. We are aware of the many calls on the time of children and parents these days and would appreciate any comments.

We realise that some parents have to travel a considerable distance and things happen that are beyond our control, but we would ask whenever possible that children are brought punctually in order to maximise use of the limited time available and minimise disruption.