Playshul is the Oxford Jewish Congregation's weekly playgroup for children aged 0-5 and their parents/carers. Meeting on Sunday mornings during the school term, Playshul provides Jewish learning through play and creativity, fun and friendship. Doors open at 9.30am and the session runs until 12.30pm, with families welcome to come along at whatever point in the morning suits your little ones’ schedules and stay for as long or short as you like.
We follow the pattern of the Jewish year: making Rosh Hashanah cards, story time in the sukkah just outside our classroom door, lighting Chanukah candles in our handmade menorahs, holding seders for Tu B’Shevat and Pesach, Purim puppetry, a Lag B’Omer hike, Yom Ha’atzmaut party, Shavuot journey to “Mt Sinai”, and Judaism-themed Sports Morning. Alongside the annual cycle, our activities incorporate a thematic focus which this year is Jewish Stories and Legends.
Each session includes craft, construction, or cookery; snack time with brachot and birthdays, story and singing; shared reading and games. There’s plentiful free-play: in the house corner with “kosher kitchen” and “Shabbat table” and from the dressing-up rail; painting, playdough, puzzles, games, dolls, cars, duplo, baby toys, and outdoor ride-on toys. We have a lending library of children’s books in English and in Hebrew and books on parenting and Jewish family life. Our eco-project is thriving, with gardening in our large outdoor planter, and this year, we are introducing a Hebrew literacy focus for the older children, using lots of small group and one-to-one interactive resources.
Playshul is entirely non-denominational, and families from every strand of Judaism and degree of observance attend, including many interfaith families and representing numerous nationalities and languages. Children attend accompanied by parent/s, a grandparent, or other carer. Regular attendees, newcomers, and occasional “drop-ins” are equally welcome.
Whatever your family circumstances or configuration, Jewish background or connection or familiarity, you will be very warmly welcomed. Many Playshul families have come to Oxford from abroad, either temporarily or long-stay, and for very many of us, Playshul has provided a friendly and supportive introduction into Oxford’s Jewish community – and the joy of learning about Judaism alongside your children.
For this Term’s programme and to find out more, contact Playshul’s leader and senior teacher Louise Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org