A short while back, I volunteered to lead a Year 7 trip around the local Synagogue, as part of their Religious Education (R.E) segment on Judaism.
We took two groups this morning, around fifty kids in all. There were five teachers (including myself) and to our delight, the students (including my very own tutor group, who give the word “dysfunctional” a whole new meaning) behaved impeccably, particularly inside the Synagogue building.
I had found some wonderful worksheets on the Internet that we gave out and got the kids to fill in, at the start of the tour, when the two classes were seated, facing one another inside the prayer room. These resources really helped to get me off the ground running, as I got down to explaining the ins and outs of a Synagogue Service. Some kids asked really good questions and although I was a little overwhelmed at first by the task (I’ve never done anything like this before), I soon found my stride and got them engaged in the environment. I must say though, it did feel somewhat strange describing artefacts whose symbolism I have always taken so much for granted.
At one point, I took out my Tallit (Prayer Shawl) and Tefillin (Phylacteries) and gave a demonstration of how I put these on in the morning. The kids (and R.E. teachers) looked totally mesmerised as I explained the steps I take to don and then remove these holy items. I then ended the tour by taking the kids up to the Ark and showing them the Torah Scrolls.
I’m so glad it all went well…because I have to do this all over again next Thursday for another Year 7 group (albeit a single class).