The story that held JFS spell­bound

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY SI­MON ROCKER

HUN­DREDS OF JFS pupils rolled into the hall on a ti­dal wave of chat­ter. But within min­utes they were sit­ting in rapt si­lence, eyes fixed on the woman at the piano be­fore them.

They were at­tend­ing one of the three back-to-per­for­mances at the school last Fri­day morn­ing of The Pia

nist of Willes­den Green, Mona Go­labek’s drama­ti­sa­tion of her mother Lisa Jura’s flight to Lon­don from Nazi-oc­cu­pied Vi­enna on the Kin­der­trans­port.

The Amer­i­can pi­anist has per­formed her one-woman show to 250,000 school­child­ren in the USA. But JFS was the first Bri­tish school to see it.

Among the au­di­ence was a small group of sixth-for­m­ers from three lo­cal schools, whose pres­ence re­flects a more con­certed ef­fort at outreach by JFS. The pre­vi­ous week around a hun­dred year-10 stu­dents from nine Brent schools at­tended an all-day sem­i­nar at JFS for Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day.

Be­fore the per­for­mance, the vis­i­tors from other schools were given an hour-long class on the back­ground to the Kin­der­trans­port from JFS his­tory teach­ers Susie Fox and Jen­nie Je­breel.

It cov­ered not only the story of the young Jewish refugees brought to Bri­tain but how the mem­ory of Kin­der­trans­port has sub­se­quently in­spired oth­ers to act — such as Jewish so­cial ac­tivist Nick Sch­lag­man, whose cam­paign raised £200,000 last year for Syr- ian child refugees. “In­di­vid­ual ac­tions do make a big dif­fer­ence,” Mrs Fox said.

As ev­ery ed­u­ca­tor knows, one per­sonal story, pow­er­fully told, can make more im­pact than a text­book full of facts. And Mona Go­labek’s tale, which uses some of the clas­si­cal pieces her mother loved to play as an emo­tional back­drop, left its mark on JFS’s guests.

Hi­jab-wear­ing Aye­sha said, “It re­ally touched the heart. The mes­sage con­veyed is so rel­e­vant in so­ci­ety with what’s go­ing on in the Middle East.”

“I have no words,” said Gui, “I’m speech­less.” Jack Todd, a his­tory teacher from Crest Acad­emy in Neas­den, said, “it speaks in an ac­ces­si­ble and pow­er­ful way. It should be seen as widely as pos­si­ble.”

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