Challenging the Status Quo

The Story of Jcoss – The Jewish Community Secondary School

in European Judaism
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As early as the mid-1990s, individuals within the Jewish community in the UK were discussing the potential of setting up a pluralist Jewish secondary school in London. Until 1981, every Jewish school in the UK had operated under Orthodox auspices. By 1999, three pluralist primary schools were thriving, and the political and Jewish communal climate was ready to support the development of a new kind of Jewish secondary school. A feasibility study in 2001 led to the formation of a steering group and the project was born. Nine years later, JCoSS opened its doors in a brand new, state-of-the-art building in North London, and 150 eleven-year-olds began a new kind of Jewish secondary education. This article charts the journey of this project, from idea to reality, navigating political, economic and community challenges, and shows how one group of people changed the landscape of Jewish education in the UK.