A rabbi, a priest and a mufti walk into a school…

By Eugene Ryvchin, January 10, 2012

We all have different levels of observance, we all have different priorities, but we all believe in the importance of education. Stereotypically Jewish students tend to do far above average in national exams, but what drives this achievement?

Text Box: If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. The Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also a way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.     - Mark Twain    There’s a clear combination of factors, the core ethos of the Jewish faith is about questioning, there is an inherent curiosity in answering every question with another question and if we’re going to be poor sportsmen we may as well be great scholars. Jewish schools are all oversubscribed by both Jewish and non-Jewish applicants and for good reason. if even David Beckham wants to send his sons to a Jewish nursery, who are we to question such wisdom. For those of us lucky enough to live in North London we are blessed with an abundance of fantastic school options, but what about those of us living in the Southern diaspora.

In Merton council there are 42 maintained schools, in Wandsworth there are 59 but there is not a single Jewish school anywhere in South West London. There is one nursery, Apples and Honey, which does a fantastic job of preparing children for a Jewish education but these children, with their love of education and preparedness for further scholarly excellence are forced into Christian, Catholic, Muslim or non-faith schools. No matter how much Jewish learning you want your children to have, it’s always nice for your children to have friends who will have their Bar and Bat mitzvahs at the same time, or come together to spin the dreidel on Chanukah but with our kids being spread across whatever schools we manage to send them to it is unlikely that they will have Jewish friends.

So what is the solution? Embark on a daily 90 minute commute? Move to North London? Convert to Catholicism?

Before you decide on such extremes let me introduce you to a new option. The South London Jewish Primary School will hopefully open in September 2013 with an initial intake of one reception class. The preparation for registering this new free school has been made possible by members of the community and parents who are concerned about the lack of Jewish schools in the area. We are currently working very hard to secure a location within the Wandsworth area.

Now that you have had time to process this wonderful news you may be wondering how you can get involved with this initiative and register your interest. We have made the process extremely simple: visit our site at www.sljps.org.uk; email us at info@sljps.org.uk; or give us a call on 07432 730218. You can also find us on Facebook and smoke signals will be accepted after 10.00 and allowing for prevailing wind conditions.

So let us not be a dim puff of stardust lost in the Milky Way, let us bring our children together in place where they can learn together, grow together and become better people together. After all, are you going to question the wisdom of Mark Twain and David Beckham?

Formerly South London Jewish Primary School

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