Six years ago I gave up teaching English in a secondary school for a quiet life working in a museum. We are a bit short of volunteer teachers at the moment so I said I would dust off my teaching skills and take a class. The office manager was pleased and then she casually said there would be 49 pupils!
The pupils were 3 classes of nine year olds who had travelled with their teachers on a two hour coach journey from Shrewsbury. And yet they arrived eager to learn about the Synagogue and Sacred Objects.
There was to be a fair bit of interactive activity and just that afternoon we had no spare volunteers to help. So I enlisted the help of the school’s teaching staff to divide the pupils into groups and help them change from one activity to the next.
I was nervous and my voice sounded a bit strained to begin with. But they were great pupils who had been well prepared for the session by their teachers. They were excited to learn about the sacred objects used in the synagogue and to try on or handle the kippahs, tephilin, tallis and mezzuzahs we keep for teaching. They enjoyed searching for the “lost” sacred objects upstairs in the gallery. They happily joined in or watched as we ceremoniously took the mini Torah Scroll from the Ark and opened it up and then paraded it back again. Many of them loved trying to write their names in Hebrew. A boy called Adam was thrilled when I told him that Adam was the very first man and so his name would appear near the start of the Torah.
The pupils and staff seemed to have enjoyed the session. I certainly enjoyed finding my inner teacher again.