In New South Wales, legislation requires that every government primary school provide one lesson of Special Religious Education or SRE (popularly known as ‘Scripture’) to its pupils each week. Schools provide a number of Special Religious Education classes to reflect the religious composition of their student body, and parents nominate the faith group which their child will attend during SRE (schools also provide a ‘Non-Scripture’ option for parents who prefer that their child not receive religious instruction).
BJE is the authorised provider of Jewish SRE lessons and teachers in New South Wales government schools. These lessons form our Emet program.
AT WHICH SCHOOLS DOES BJE PROVIDE EMET?
BJE provides Emet lessons at over 70 government schools throughout New South Wales. The majority of these schools are in the Sydney metropolitan area, but we also provide lessons in some outer metropolitan and country schools. We attempt to provide a teacher and lessons in any NSW government school where there are a minimum of three students interested in attending an Emet class; it is not necessary that all the students are in the same grade as it is possible to run composite classes, depending on school timetabling policies.
WHEN DO EMET LESSONS TAKE PLACE? HOW LONG DO LESSONS LAST?
Emet lessons take place during normal school hours. The day and time at which Emet takes place varies from school to school and you should consult your local school for details of their timetable. Most schools offer SRE lessons (including Emet) which are 30 minutes long, but some schools offer longer lessons as long as 45 minutes.
WHAT DO STUDENTS LEARN IN EMET LESSONS?
BJE provides a structured curriculum for students in Emet classes. Students are encouraged to feel positive about being Jewish and to identify with the Jewish community. They learn about Jewish holidays, values, synagogue basics and Israel. Older children also explore ethical aspects of Judaism and explore some areas of Jewish history. Basic Jewish prayers are incorporated into each lesson. Where possible, lessons are also enriched with activities such as demonstration Sedarim for Pesach (Passover), hands-on experiences, craft activities, guest presenters and visits from Jewish youth groups.
More detailed information about what students learn in Emet lessons may be found in our Scope & Sequence document.
Project Heritage is an inter-generational Jewish learning experience that brings Jewish youth together with senior members of the community.
Year 6 students in selected schools take part in Project Heritage. A Holocaust survivor acts as a Living Historian for each class and tells and discusses their life story with students, who then do further research and prepare a presentation based on the Living Historian’s life. This Project is extremely popular with students who enjoy learning more about the Holocaust, placing their knowledge into a more structured framework, and relating to the individual story of an older member of the Jewish community. Living Historians are careful to relate their story in an age-appropriate and sensitive way for students. Schools participating in Project Heritage are chosen on the combined basis of Year 6 enrollment numbers and availability of a suitable Living Historian in the local area.
To see photographs of Project Heritage in 2016, please see our Project Heritage 2016 post.
WHAT IF MY CHILD’S SCHOOL DOES NOT OFFER JEWISH SRE (THE EMET PROGRAM)?
If there are sufficient students interested in attending an Emet class (a minimum of 3 students per class is required), then approach the school and request that they contact BJE to arrange for a Jewish SRE teacher to attend at the school. If you are uncertain how many potentially interested students there are, the school may be able to assist you e.g. by placing a notice in the school newsletter asking interested parents to contact you.
Please note that despite our best endeavours, it is not always possible to provide an Emet teacher to every school which requests one as logistical and other considerations may prevent a suitable teacher being available.
IS EMET OFFERED IN HIGH SCHOOLS?
A very limited number of high schools do offer SRE (and therefore Emet) as part of their program. The frequency of SRE at these high schools varies from once per week to once per term, depending on the individual school.
MY CHILD ATTENDS A SCHOOL WHERE EMET IS NOT OFFERED. ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?
For children in Jewishly remote areas BJE offers a correspondence program.
BJE runs Emet High School in a number of selected high schools.
Emet Traditions classes are open to students in neighbouring schools to attend.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR MY CHILD TO RECEIVE MORE JEWISH EDUCATION THAN JUST EMET?
BJE runs additional programmes in selected government schools where there is sufficient demand. These programmes are Emet Extension, Emet Hebrew and Emet Traditions. In addition, Hebrew is offered as a school subject in a small number of government schools.