27 Tammuz 5777
21 July 2017
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London School of Jewish Studies

The Gift of Torah – a blog by Bradfield Alumni

A collection of Divrei Torah in memory of Susi Bradfield z”l by alumni of The Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme

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18 years ago, LSJS received a fax with a very exciting message: Susi Bradfield’s 70thbirthday was on the horizon, and her family wanted to mark the occasion with a unique gift, a donation in her name to support greater opportunities for women in Jewish Education. As luck would have it, I had recently come up with the kernel of an idea for a programme to train women as Jewish adult educators. Professor David Hillel Ruben, then the Director of LSJS, and I had a discussion with Michael Bradfield and soon found there was a true meeting of minds. It wasn’t long before we had a plan: Susi’s gift for her special birthday would be the establishment of a unique programme in her name, which would combine Torah study and pedagogic training, enabling knowledgeable Jewish women to develop their skills as adult educators.

The Susi Bradfield Women Educators’ Programme was launched in December 1999, initially as a three year project. Five years later, the programme was still going strong and the graduates had a wonderful time presenting a surprise gift to Susi to mark the 5th anniversary of the programme and her 75th birthday.  Entitled ‘The Gift of Torah’, it was a collection of essays on Tanach, which they had been working on in chavrutot (study pairs) for the previous 18 months. It still amazes me that they managed to keep shtum about this for so long and not spoil the surprise!

Happily, we printed extra copies of the book at the time and have since presented one to every graduate of the programme at their end of year siyyum.

When the Bradfield graduates and current participants on the programme, many of whom, sadly, did not have the opportunity to meet Susi, decided to create a collection of divrei torah in her memory to commemorate her 10th yahrzeit (10th Sivan 5777), it seemed only fitting to use the same title, ‘The Gift of Torah’.

You might think of this blog as your Omer companion, a source of inspiration and ideas as over the next two months we journey together from intense Pesach preparations, through the seder, Pesach and the Omer towards Shavuot, the festival of matan torah – the giving of the Torah.

As Rabbi Sacks has pointed out, there are some things which we can give to others without having less ourselves. Influence, for example, is ‘like lighting one candle with another. Sharing your influence with someone else does not mean you have less; you have more. When we use the flame of a candle to light another candle, the first is not diminished. There is now, simply, more light.’

Amongst the many gifts Susi Bradfield zichronah l’vracha (may her memory be for a blessing) gave her children, was the influence of a strong role model, a woman who, together with her husband Freddie z’l, was dedicated to serving the community; her children, in turn, chose to honour her with a living, growing gift to the community —  a network of educators who proudly bear her name and share the light of Torah.