Support, love and engage
UJIA JAMS' staple diet of activities is assemblies and lunchtime sessions for Jewish pupils in non-Jewish schools. But occasionally, we get asked to help facilitate a special, one-off event. In December, two schools - City of London School for Girls and North London Collegiate School - approached UJIA JAMS to ask us to help them prepare alternative Jewish activities during the time the rest of the school were in their Christmas carol services. Of course we were delighted to help!
City of London requested two creative sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, for younger and older pupils respectively. They wanted something a bit different from normal, something that would engage Jewish pupils who would not normally come to J-Soc events, and something that would be a worthy alternative to the carol service. UJIA JAMS arranged for two different Zionist youth movements, RSY-Netzer and Hanoar Hatzioni, to go into the school to run the sessions, and they did not disappoint. UJIA JAMS is proud of our close relationship with the youth movements, and we find that it is a "win-win-win" situation, with UJIA JAMS being able to offer provision suitable for young people (the youth movements' speciality), the school J-Soc getting dynamic, committed members of the youth movement who can run amazing activities, and the youth movements themselves getting the chance to interact with loads of young people they might otherwise never have contact with. Overall, the day's activities were a great success.
North London Collegiate wanted something different: a big, set-piece event for over two hundred girls at once, to bring an exciting term of J-Soc activities to a grand close. The idea for a Question Time-style event emerged, and the J-Soc chairs asked if we might be able to get a range of different denominational representatives to sit on the same panel. In the "grown up" community, of course, this kind of request is often fiercely contested. But the magic of UJIA JAMS is that, as an impartial, cross-communal project dedicated to providing a wide range of Jewish experiences for pupils in non-Jewish schools, we can bring organisations with radically different ideologies together. And so, for an hour and a half, representatives from six Jewish organisations - LJY-Netzer (Liberal), Noam (Masorti), Bnei Akiva (Modern Orthodox), J*Link (Aish), FZY (pluralist) and Habonim Dror (culturally Jewish) - sat at the same table, answered the same questions, interacted respectfully even as they passionately disagreed and showed off what our community could be if we spent less time fighting! For the girls in the auditorium, it was an oasis of cross-communal calm, not because everyone only talked about things they could agree on, but because true dialogue amongst the different Jewish organisations is possible. UJIA JAMS and NLCS J-Soc were so proud to have been part of what was truly a historic event.