Elaine Bermitz interviews Gail Taylor to find out about an educational video she made for local schools.
Stay at home working and the increased use of social media has meant that many have lost their jobs through lockdown, but for some it has increased their opportunities to widen their audiences. Gail Taylor found that many schools were still contacting her to be shown around Etz Chaim Synagogue during COVID, a task that became impossible due to the restrictions which were in place.
She decided that the only way to answer their requests was to put her talk onto video and send it out to schools so they would have enough material to include Judaism in their curriculum. Wanting it to be a professional project which would meet the requirements of source material for Key Stage 2 and 3, and to be used by pupils who were studying Judaism as a part of their GCSEs meant that she had to find a professional filmmaker. Mentioning this at a shul council meeting, she was contacted by Ed Marks who produced, not only this but eight further films which all now appear on the official SACRE site for use by anyone who wants to view them.
I asked her how she went about this and how the project grew so big: “I wanted to make just one film, as those I viewed on YouTube didn’t seem professional or informative enough, so I approached the shul council who said they would fund it. I am also the Jewish representative on SACRE, The Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education for West Yorkshire and when I reported to them what I was doing they and Ed helped me apply for a bid from Westhill Educational Trust to finance its production.
“So the original project changed due to SACRE’s requirements to include the Orthodox, Etz Chaim and Street Lane shuls, the United Hebrew Synagogue and the Sinai Reform Synagogue. This meant that
I would have to change my usual script and I had to supply words to go onto the website and ensure that the information was absolutely accurate, meeting exam requirements.
“In addition, we decided not to film the rabbis in their synagogues at all, but to sse Ed’s studio and invite them to answer the same questions according to their own practices.”
I imagined that it couldn’t have been easy to co-ordinate the timings for this: “No!” said Gail smiling wryly.
“Getting one community rabbi to give his time without unexpected interruptions is one thing, but getting four rabbis into one studio to answer the same questions takes a lot of effort! Then there was the editing!”
In the end, though Gail, with the assistance of Ed is responsible for nine six-to-nine-minute-long videos on aspects of Judaism ranging from ‘Daily and Sabbath Prayer’ and ‘The Torah’ to ‘What Goes
on in a Synagogue’ and ‘The Branches of British Jewry.’
Launched on 27th June at Bridge Hill Community Church Hall, the videos have already been greeted with enthusiasm by Allerton Grange School as “an excellent resource.”
The videos are accompanied by pictures and can be accessed by using the following link: Penninelearning.com and scroll down to resources then videos to find the synagogue series.