Hello, Brighton & Hove! We are Matt and Sheerelle Marks, and we’re thrilled to be joining the BNJC community as part of the education and programming team.
In our first blog post, we wanted to share a bit about ourselves and our journey to this exciting new adventure.
Matt grew up in Belmont, a small community in the UK, where he attended several Jewish schools and went on various Bnei Akiva machanot. He went on to study at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in Jerusalem for a year and a half before returning to complete a degree in philosophy. Matt worked as a Youth Director in Muswell Hill before returning to Israel for a year of kollel and then teaching English through Teach First. After meeting and marrying Sheerelle, he moved to JFS, where he took on various roles, including KS3 coordinator, head of literacy, and associate senior leader. Matt and his family then joined the Mizrachi UK Fellowship programme in Israel, where he completed his MA in Jewish Education, rabbinic studies, and additional fellowships with LSJS and OUJLIC.
Sheerelle was born in London and moved to Israel with her family at the age of two. They lived in Israel for eight years before returning to London, where Sheerelle attended Independent Jewish Day School and Hasmonean. She then went back to Israel for a “Gap Year” studying at Michlala before returning to London, where she qualified as an Occupational Therapist. Sheerelle volunteered with several charities and organizations throughout her years in London, such as Camp Simcha, Keshet, Kisharon, and GIFT. After meeting Matt, they got married in Israel and returned to London to further their careers until Mizrachi UK offered them the opportunity to study in Israel for several years.
Our new roles at BNJC
At BNJC, our roles will involve overseeing the education and programming that takes place on the site, from locally run art classes to volunteering events, celebrations for Jewish festivals, and various shabbatonim and residentials. We bring different skill sets to the table, with Sheerelle focusing more on supporting the development of the nursery and building up daytime programming.
Why Brighton & Hove?
When we were deciding where to return to in the UK, the project in Brighton/Hove caught our attention. We both thrive on change, new environments, and a diverse range of people, and the BNJC team seemed like a perfect fit for us. Marc was incredibly persuasive during our first Zoom meeting, dangling a beach and the South Downs in front of us as we remained locked in our apartment during the height of the pandemic. We were sold on the idea of living in a place with a football team that constantly defies expectations and brings joy to its fans. Plus, living so close to the sea and the South Downs is perfect for Sheerelle, who loves being surrounded by nature, quirky shops, trinkets, and second-hand stores.
What we’re most excited for:
There is so much we are looking forward to being at BNJC. Matt’s is particularly excited about the restaurant. We’ve been friends with the Novellino team for a while now, and we can’t wait to have their restaurant right on our doorstep. In fact, Matt has already started saving for a new wardrobe because he knows he’ll be indulging in their delicious food.
Sheerelle can’t wait for the community aspect of BNJC. It’s going to be a warm, exciting, and innovative centre that will cater to every person in our community, from newborns to the elderly. I think having a centre that caters to so many is incredibly unique and can be a powerful way of bringing people from different walks of life together. We’re particularly excited about the nursery, which looks like it’s going to be an outstanding, cutting-edge facility for the community.
Thoughts from our kids!
Coming with us on this big adventure are our kids, Lielle, Anayah, and Noa. When asked what they were most excited about for our move to Brighton, Lielle was looking forward to living in a house with stairs inside, having more than one toilet, and having carpet in their rooms. Anayah was excited about forest school (for context, we don’t think she knows what this is – but her cousin goes, and we said she might have the chance to go too – so let’s hope it lives up to her vague, but lofty expectations!). Noa was excited about bringing her doll, Baby, with her to Brighton.
And when asked if they were looking forward to living right next to the seaside, all three kids answered with a resounding “YES!!!!!!” We’re all so excited to explore our new surroundings and make new memories as a family.