Tania has just completed her first year at the University of Sussex where she is studying History. She spent a few weeks with the learning team during a very hectic month of school visits:
As a history student I was very excited to be offered an internship at the Jewish Museum.
Tuesday was my first day at the museum. It began with a tour which included a look at some of the incredible artefacts in the stores with Curatorial Assistant Alice Quine.
I then helped facilitate a fascinating workshop of the role of British Jews in WW1. I learnt a lot even though the talk was aimed at a year 6 class and I am an undergrad studying history! The role Jews played in the First World War is not something greatly discussed either in historical discourse or wider society and so the workshop provided an interesting new angle. The chance to handle genuine artefacts from the trenches was also a very special experience for both myself and the children participating in the workshop.
In the afternoon I joined a year 7 class in a talk by Bernd Koschland who had spent the first potion of his childhood in Nazi Germany before escaping to England on the Kindertransport. The talk was incredibly moving, especially when he showed us a photograph of prisoners at Dachau he had seen at a museum in which he was able to identify his father. The students were very respectful and asked intelligent and thoughtful questions.
On Wednesday I helped facilitate two workshops on Jewish festivals for a year 4 class. It made for an interesting contrast to the historical workshops I had been in the day before and I was impressed by the museum’s capacity to teach for a range of school subjects with equal flare. The festivals workshops were very interactive and involved a lot of food! They also included explanations of the biblical stories at the heart of the festivals, grape juice drinking, and a game of dreidel. It was very exciting to get to experience four of my favourite Jewish festivals in one afternoon! As someone who was brought up in a secular Jewish home I also learnt lots of new things myself, such as that the significance of the pomegranate in Judaism is because the number of seeds in a pomegranate correlates to the number of commandments. In the afternoon, the children explored the museum galleries and had the chance to design their own Kippot which they immensely enjoyed.
On Thursday I once again helped to facilitate a workshop on the role of Jews in WWI. Whilst the first time I witnessed this workshop it had been aimed at year 6s, this time it was aimed at year 3s and it was interesting to see how the museum facilitator altered the talk to make it more age appropriate. The children also greatly enjoyed looking round the WW1 exhibition at the Jewish museum. They seemed especially fascinated by an original WWI film of families waving goodbye to soldiers that the museum has projected onto the wall.
My first few days at the museum have flown by. Every day is different and I can’t wait to see how the rest of my placement here plays out.