Jewish Heritage Guides

JTrails has initiated on-going training for Jewish Heritage Guides in several areas.

We have currently trained guides in Lincoln and are training Guides in Oxford. If you are keen on getting involved in these locations, or to suggest another location, please contact us at JTrails and we will be pleases to advise.


Out-Line of Training

The training of Jewish Heritage Guides will usually take over the course of 4-6 weeks and include part-time home study and practical on-site training which can be fitted in with your usual work and commitments. The course and the training should be stimulating and fun to do, as you learn new skills, or refine existing skills, in talking to the public in a practical and entertaining way about Jewish history and heritage. People from all sorts of back-grounds become successful tour guides and the major pre-requisites are enthusiasm and commitment to learn and practice new skills. The course is designed to build confidence and the assessment, built into the course, is designed to constructively explore with the training heritage guide when they will have the necessary skills and foundations to work with the public.

There is an initial historical self-study component, which will take around 20 hours, depending on the individual, and this covers the history of the Jews of England over the last thousand years. The intention of the training is to make sure that the guide has a confident general knowledge of the history of Jews in England which they can relate to their local Jewish history and heritage on the ground. The study text for this will be the short book, The Story of England's Jews, which is on the JTrails web-site ( and is available in other formats.

After the history of England's Jews has been covered, the practical guide training will start and there will be 8 hours of practical training split into two sessions, in small groups, usually at a week-end. This is the point at which you will start to study your local Jewish heritage and to learn it in the context of the history you have studied so far and in the practical context of walking your local Jewish trail. You will walk your local trail with the trainer and learn practical delivery skills and how to manage groups of visitors and create a professional impression. You will also learn manageable sections of the trail which you will then rehearse with other members of the group at other times. We will encourage training guides to meet each other out-side of the formal sessions to practice more sections of the trail together until you have covered it all.

At the end of your training there will be a final session practical session where the skills you have learnt so far will be put into practice, as you take your trainer and fellow training guides on a part of your local heritage trail. At the end of the session the training guide will be encouraged to take part in a self-assessment, in a constructive discussion with the trainer and other members of the group to establish whether the training guide is ready to take the plunge of doing their first independent tour, in terms of knowledge or tour guiding skills, or if they still need a little more practice.

The object of the course is not to make you an over-night expert, but to give you the foundations and tools with which to deliver your first tours at a good standard that can them be developed in practice as you gain more knowledge and experience and do your own research and additional reading. In practice heritage guides often develop their knowledge by finding answers to questions presented by their clients on the tours and following their own interests.

Self-Study Course

The self-study course is for use in conjunction with the booklet, The Story of England's Jews, by Marcus Roberts and which is readily available on the JTrails Web-site as a PDF file and the Self-Study Course itself, is in the Tutorials Section of the site. The booklet and questions are available as a CD ROM and can be printed out, or the materials can be provided as an electronic copy that should be compatible with most assistive soft-ware and screen-readers.

The material has been broken down into sections and you should read one section at a time, within the page numbers indicated at the start of each section and do the questions and activities associated with it. It is not necessary to write long answers to the questions but is better to keep to the point and bullet point answers can be used and if you are familiar with mind-maps, these can be used as well. Sections vary a little in length but should take no more than one to two hours to complete. While you are most likely to write answers to the questions, you can supply answers in other formats if this is helpful. Having a printed-off version which you can mark up with pencil and high-lighter pens is to be recommended. It is best not to try to do too much at once -- a bit each day is better than trying to do everything at a week-end.

The activities are geared to the practical requirements of being a trail guide and to help you to recall the material; it is not an academic exercise. When you are working with this material do not consciously try to remember the information -- memory follows from working with the materials in different ways, seeing the under-laying patterns and structure and most of all understanding the material.

It is important that you develop a clear sense of 'the story' of Anglo-Jewish history and how it can be broken down into key phases. You will also need to build up a memory of key facts which you are likely to use on a regular basis, such as the dates of the General Expulsion and the re-admission of the Jew, etc. Also, you will need to understand the important issues and concepts behind Anglo-Jewish History, such as the experience of being a minority and the significance of money-lending in medieval Jewish experience. Finally, you will need to be able to deal with issues of prejudice and stereo-typing and matters of sensitivity. For example, you may well be asked if Jews were ever guilty of blood libel crimes and you will need to be able to give a balanced presentation of Jewish history which does not forget 'normal' Jewish history and the real Jewish contribution to the story of these islands.

Your JTrails trainer will be available to answer questions on the material and to mark each section when you have completed it for your guidance and so you know that you are on the right track.

For those of you about to embark on your studies to be a Jewish Heritage Guide, we at JTrails, wish you luck, and a rewarding journey through your local Jewish history and heritage!

Marcus Roberts

(Director: JTrails)

oxford heritage trail logo the spiro ark logo