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Spotlight: A Recipe for Peace and Friendship

Sara Miriam Gross

Tisha B’Av is almost here. We hope it will be a Yom Tov but if it isn’t we know the reason why — there are still repairs to be done, additional mitzvos that will bring shalom, peace and achdus, unity, to Klal Yisrael. Wondering what you can do? Let’s visit the Gateshead Jewish Primary School for Girls in England for some great ideas! We spoke with Deputy Headteacher Mrs. Debra Danan and three students, to find out their school’s special recipe for peace and friendship.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

MJ: Please tell us about your program.

Mrs. Danan: Our project is based on a program that is used in many schools across England, called the buddy system. The idea is to ensure that everyone has a friend to play with, and nobody should feel left out. This program — originally introduced by Mrs. Salomon, our head of upper school — is especially important because we live in a small community. Everyone sends their children here, so we also have special-needs children, such as those with Down syndrome, among our pupils and we don’t want anyone to be left out.


MJ: Even grownups can go to events or simchahs and feel like they don’t have a place to sit or someone to talk to. Isn’t being left out sometimes, a part of life?

Mrs. Danan: That's 100 percent correct. At times everybody feels left out. The buddy system ensures that no one will be consistently left out. The three basic principles of the buddy system are not leaving anyone out; being nice, which means no fights or bullying; and that children should know basic first-aid techniques in case of need.

We decided that we wanted the fourth-graders should be role models for the younger girls at our large school. We told them that a bas Yisrael is a role model for whoever sees her, so her behavior, her middos, and the way she dresses have to be on a high level. To that end I had a training session with the fourth-graders to launch the program this year.

Now I speak to them informally about the social skills we are working on, such as listening to how someone else sees things and learning to compromise. Each day there is a rota of three or four of the fourth-graders who are in charge during the three recesses we have each day.


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