Rabbi's visit lifts school's spirits

PUBLISHED: 15:50 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

Bernards Heath pupils with Rabbi Wittenberg and Mitzpah the dog

Bernards Heath pupils with Rabbi Wittenberg and Mitzpah the dog

A RABBI visiting a school to give a talk about the environment and inter-faith relations also included the chance to comfort the pupils over the loss of a popular teacher. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg was visiting Bernards Heath Junior School in St Albans, a

A RABBI visiting a school to give a talk about the environment and inter-faith relations also included the chance to comfort the pupils over the loss of a popular teacher.

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg was visiting Bernards Heath Junior School in St Albans, as part of a 100-mile walk to raise awareness about the environment, health care and interfaith relations.

He had planned to visit the school as it was the most northern point of his journey and when he arrived the head told him that Year Three teacher Jacqui Hannah, aged 43, had recently died of a stroke leaving everyone feeling very upset.

Jonathan decided to go ahead with his talk and introduced the children to his dog Mitzpah, a one-year-old border collie pup, who was accompanying him on the trek, and this helped the pupils with their grief.

He discussed with the children how the environment was being damaged by man's activities, pointing out that Mitzpah developed a fear of traffic during the walk which began at his home in Finchley and included a visit to the House of Commons to talk about the issues he was highlighting.

Liz Oppedijk, trustee of the St Albans-based Msorti synagogue helped organise the rabbi's visit to the school. She said the whole school had been devastated by the loss of Jacqui Hannah but it was amazing how animals could lift people's spirits.

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