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Carmel House School

The Brighton and Hove Jewish Day School was opened as a Jewish nursery school by Rabbi Dr Julius Unsdorfer in 1975 and was established to offer Jewish children in Brighton and Hove a Jewish education alongside secular studies. It was located in Ralli Hall, Denmark Villas, Hove from 1977 to September 1979 when the school… Read more »

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The Brighton and Hove Jewish Day School was opened as a Jewish nursery school by Rabbi Dr Julius Unsdorfer in 1975 and was established to offer Jewish children in Brighton and Hove a Jewish education alongside secular studies. It was located in Ralli Hall, Denmark Villas, Hove from 1977 to September 1979 when the school changed its name to Carmel House School, and moved to 29 New Church Road.

The new school continued to offer nursery education, but expanded to teach the children as they grew older, eventually having children from nursery to primary school age. The former welfare offices in Westbourne Street were acquired to accommodate the increase in numbers. Jennie Tribe was Headmistress, and Myrna Carlebach taught Jewish Studies. Other teachers included Maureen Kendler and Lena Rosenberg.

The school was divided into the nursery, with pupils aged from two-and-a-half to four years, and the junior school with pupils from four years upwards. The nursery initially had six children and by September 1977, there were 15 children in the first infants’ class and 13 in the second infants’ class. By January 1978, the nursery had 19 pupils, reception 12 pupils, and the first and second classes 14 pupils each.

The aim of the nursery was to educate and stimulate the children in a constructive manner by learning through play – using lots of equipment; music and movement; pre-writing skills and number recognition.  Jewish Studies consisted of learning the Aleph-Bet and simple Hebrew reading, experience in Jewish living, covering every aspect of Jewish life, including observance, ritual, family life and traditions.

The junior school set the highest standards in English, French, maths, science, geography, history, current affairs, arts & crafts, music appreciation and speech and drama. The aim of the school was to develop the children to be socially adaptable and, emotionally secure and while expecting the highest standards of behaviour and courtesy – through kindness and constructive discipline.

Jewish studies consisted of vocabulary, Bible stories, parshiot(weekly Torah portions), prophets, Shabbat & festivals, familiarisation with prayer books and basic prayers, Israeli culture and holiday customs, Jewish songs and Israeli dances. It was an introduction to the children to the world of Jewish knowledge to open their minds and create more knowledgeable Jews of the future. The curriculum also included gym and PT; swimming and optional ballet.

In June 1981, the school was affiliated to the Zionist Federation Educational Trust (ZFET), an umbrella organisation for 16 other Jewish schools throughout the country.  The school closed in 1984 after money could not be raised to match funds offered by the ZFET.

However, the nursery continued as Yavneh, under the leadership of Vicki Cohen until 1988, when Sarah Berman (now Wilks) took over. It continued successfully as a nursery only with up to 25 children until 1992, when Estelle Freeman took over. In 2000, it became part of the Torah Academy, now known as the Torah Montessori Nursery.

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