O\ a @ewish school
Left: Year-10 Immanuel students in Strasbourg. Above: in full voice in school musical Mary Poppins
with the turn of a sign the audience returned to respectful silence.
The second aspect of Immanuel life that has really impressed me has been the high standard of the performing arts, whether the Chanukah concerts, the open mic night, the arts festival or productions of Three Sisters (professional and thought-provoking) and Mary Poppins (hugely entertaining and during which I joined in with most of the songs). We have some remarkably talented students and staff to direct them.
The third area would be the fantastic school trips that have been organised to Poland, Odessa, Normandy, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Madrid, CERN and the one I joined most recently, Israel. ICIT (Immanuel College Israel Tour) took place for all 92 year-nine students for three weeks. I could only afford to spend four days with them — the Shabbat weekend in Jerusalem — but what a magnificent experience. Despite El Al’s attempts to prevent me getting there ( don’t mention security or delays at Luton Airport) I got to appreciate the importance of the Jewish Sabbath. Until that moment Shabbat had meant for me an early end to the school week on Fridays and an absence from emails for 24 hours.
But being surrounded by the pupils and staff in the Old City, praying, singing, telling stories, dancing and, of course, eating will be something that I will never forget. This was followed by a visit to the Western Wall, with more celebrations at 10.30 in the evening, and pizza to come . It was moving, emotional, meaningful and wonderful. The true feeling of being part of the family was brought home to me in a delightful way. I have discovered more about Judaism, Jewish life and learning, the ethos and the communal spirit than I ever thought possible. I may not be Jewish, but I certainly feel part of the family and I thank the children, the staff and the parents for making feel so at home — whether that’s in Bushey or Jerusalem.