How new centre plans to teach Jewish heritage

Some of the most fascinating learning experiences take place outside the classroom. And a new project in Leeds is set to help people young and old to delve deeper into another culture. Jo Francisco reports.

A GROUNDBREAKING Jewish education centre – believed to be the first of its kind in Europe – is set to open in Leeds.

And the YEP has been given a sneak preview behind the doors of the new Jewish Heritage Centre for Children which will open in October.

Work is under way to create the facility thanks to a 274,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The centre is an extension to the existing Chabad-Lubavitch Centre, on Shadwell Lane, offering the chance to explore Jewish culture and traditions.

It features a 19th century East European village (shtetl), a modern 21st century kosher play kitchen and supermarket.

The centre will use arts and crafts, cookery, music, drama and computer software to bring Judaism to life for the public to experience in a fun and entertaining way.

Although it is aimed at youngsters, it will also be open to all ages and has already had interest from colleges, teachers and further education students wanting to know more about the faith.

And through hands-on learning activities it aims to encourage respect and understanding of Jewish heritage, across all faiths and backgrounds.

Local film-maker Simon Marcus, of Addictive Media, has produced short DVDs to accompany the exhibits.

Children from the Jewish school Brodetsky Primary, in Alwoodley, have also taken part in an introductory film about Jewish traditions, foods and festivals.

Project co-ordinator Ruth Bell came up with the idea after hosting a series of small exhibitions.

She said: "We wanted something more permanent and available for the wider public to learn about Judaism and see how Jewish people live.

"There's been a whole range of people interested."

Ruth said there had been a lot of interest in the cooking courses on offer – which could be vital for trainee chefs who go on to work in hospitals or schools where they will need to cater for different religions.

It will also offer the chance to learn about cooking traditional Jewish foods and dietary laws.

The authentic shtetl will allow visitors to see how Jewish people lived in the 1800s and workshops will give a hands-on feel to the learning experience.

Ruth added: "We want to present Judaism in a fun and interesting way.

"This is the first of its kind in the country – even the first of its kind in Europe.

"There's a lot of ignorance, so what better way to learn more than to come along and see for yourself."

The centre is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information go to www.jhcc.org.uk

Volunteers dig deep

THEY know more than most the value of land – and now a team of solicitors and estate agents have created an invaluable addition to a Leeds school.

Volunteers fromEmsleys solicitors and estate agents, Sherburn In Elmet, put their paperwork to one side and swapped their desks for the great outdoors.

They rolled up their sleeves to work on a project that will help more than 350 children from Victoria Primary School, near East End Park, Leeds, with their science studies.

The group of eight created a pond for the school, as part of Give & Gain Day.

Headteacher Alison Carrick said it was fantastic asset.

She added: "The volunteers from Emsleys have taken time out of their day to come to the school and help with projects that would otherwise not happen and for that we are really grateful.

"The children will have the opportunity to test water qualities, go dipping and identify any wildlife that is attracted as a result of the science pond, which will encourage the practical side to science lessons and help us to facilitate more hands-on sessions with the students."

Give & Gain Day is the UK's largest day of action for employee volunteers, organised by Business in the Community.

Around 6,000 workers from 212 companies gave up their time to help communities across the UK, injecting 1m of man-hours into projects to help more than 75,000 people.

Rhinos star is academy's special guest at awards ceremony

A SPORTING champion was guest of honour at a new Leeds academy's first presentation evening.

The event at Leeds West Academy – formerly Intake High School – was held to celebrate students' outstanding achievements and was attended by 500 students, staff, parents, carers and dignitaries.

Leeds Rhinos' Jamie Peacock, captain of the Great Britain and England Rugby League teams, handed out awards for excellence, progress, attendance and leadership, as well as for contributions to wider community life.

The three most prestigious awards went to a trio who have proved great ambassadors for the academy.

Shanice Hardy won the award for Achievement in the face of Adversity.

Shanice was selected for the award after maintaining attendance levels of more than 90 per cent in spite of being hospitalised after suffering two acute strokes and being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Sophie Collins won the Governors' Award for Outstanding Achievement and the E-ACT Sponsors Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Panashe Mbire.

Principal

Principal Annette Hall said: "Our results last summer rated us as one of the most improved schools in Leeds, and we look forward to another year of even more spectacular results.

"This is due to the hard work, commitment and talent of our students together with the outstanding efforts from our staff. It has been brilliant to have a public opportunity to commend students for their efforts."

Former Spice Girl Mel B attended Intake High, which closed in August last year and re-opened under its new name in September, in the existing buildings.

The academy's brand new 30m building, a Building Schools for the Future project which survived the huge cuts announced last week, is set to open in September 2011.

Group's biology awards

WHEN it comes to the anatomy of success, students at St Mary's School in Menston know the subject inside out.

A group of 12 year-10 students from the school have scooped awards in The Biology Challenge, a national competition supported by the Society of Biology.

They put their knowledge to the test with two question papers.

Rachel Brown, head of science, said: "The students gave up their lunchtimes to take part and I am extremely pleased and proud of them."

Stephanie McKay, Isabelle Pickles, Ruth Peacock, Charlotte O'Byrne and Dominique Jocelyn each won Gold Awards. Stephanie Hunter, Aine Donnelly, Rachel O'Shea and Hannah Armitage collected Silver Awards, and Cait Hanstock, Benedict Hutchinson and Harrison Sweeney picked up Bronze Awards.

College success

A LEEDS college has reported outstanding success in staff training after feedback from employers it has worked with.

Joseph Priestley College has accomplished 95 per cent achievement and success, topping the national average of 83 per cent and the Skills Funding Agency's minimum target of 65 per cent.