Jewish Education Matters

December 3, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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NSW State Liberal MP Gabrielle Upton attended a function held by Jewish Education Matters. She reported her visit to Parliament.

In her address to the NSW Legislative Assembly, Gabrielle Upton said:

Gabrielle Upton with students

“Recently I had the pleasure of attending the end-of-year banquet and volunteer appreciation evening held by the Jewish Education Matters organisation in my electorate of Vaucluse. Jewish Education Matters—or JEMs for short—is a gem. It is a relatively new organisation that gives children from non-Jewish schools the opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage and to learn Hebrew. It was my pleasure to accept the invitation of Jewish Education Matters founder, Rabbi Yossi Shuchat, to attend the end-of-year banquet held at Kesser Torah College in Dover Heights. The event was well attended with more than 500 adults plus children in the large college auditorium. The event included performances by the children who access the service provided by Jewish Education Matters, and each age group received certificates and gifts.

Community organisations such as Jewish Education Matters rely on volunteers, and I had the pleasure of presenting certificates to the volunteers at Jewish Education Matters and congratulating them on their involvement. Many of the volunteers are high school students from local Jewish schools. They are busy with their studies but they find time to spread Jewish education amongst the young people in the electorate. Jewish Education Matters was launched in May this year by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shuchat, who both founded the organisation. I recognise also Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who is the director of Our Big Kitchen and who has been instrumental in helping Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shuchat in organising the group and ensuring its success.

The organisation has community involvement as its focus. Teenagers primarily from Jewish private schools in the area are invited to share their knowledge about the Jewish culture in a consultative and creative way with the children. The teenagers form mentoring relationships with younger attendees—some as young as five—to ensure that the Jewish culture and teachings are passed on in a supportive and warm environment. They are the volunteers that I had the pleasure of celebrating and presenting prizes to at the annual banquet. Some 45 teenagers are involved in Jewish Education Matters, with 108 children attending and learning about Jewish heritage and the Hebrew language.

It is important in our society that community groups continue passing down the traditions and teachings that have been followed over generations. As a Parliament we need to encourage the involvement of groups in the passing down of cultures, and encourage community involvement and engagement. In the last survey more than 30 per cent of residents in my electorate of Vaucluse identified as being Jewish, and groups such as Jewish Education Matters allow those children not attending the Jewish schools of Kesser Torah and Moriah to learn about their Jewish heritage and culture. Community groups such as Jewish Education Matters will allow families to send their children to the school of their choice whilst still ensuring that the children have an outlet to learn about the Jewish faith.

What really impressed me about Jewish Education Matters was the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers and the delight shown by the older mentors who helped the young children and had formed bonds with them. At such a young age that group of young mentors from private schools in my electorate are very passionate about and committed to ensuring that younger people in the community learn the Jewish traditions and that those traditions are passed down so that the Jewish culture continues to thrive in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Organisations such as Jewish Education Matters rely on volunteers.

It is inspiring to see so many busy young people who could be doing many other things not only willingly putting up their hands to help but also taking the opportunity to participate in education and engage with younger members of their community. The involvement and enthusiasm of volunteers ensures that the community remains inclusive and cohesive. The act of volunteering and participating strengthens our community in so many ways, tangible and intangible, and that is what Parliament should be encouraging, as indeed we do. We know that from the many private members’ statements made in this House.

We should encourage strong communities who feel empowered to offer real services and education to their members. Through their volunteers groups like Jewish Education Matters encourage community spirit whilst educating the Jewish community and ensuring it survives and knows about its culture. Despite the group being founded only six months ago, the number of children attending the programs has grown and grown. I wish Jewish Education Matters the very best in continuing its amazing success and I look forward to engaging further with the group as it continues its excellent work in the electorate of Vaucluse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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