Herzlia pupils explore Jewish identity on Discover programme

Herzlia High School hosted their flagship Discover programme for Grade 11s in their Jewish Life & Learning (JLL) curriculum.

This programme invites Grade 11 pupils to engage with topics pitched at their level of maturity and life stage, including meaningful self-growth, Jewish identity and interpersonal relationships. The iconic Discover programme has been a highly anticipated annual rite of passage since it was launched in 1997 — none have ever been missed except due to Covid in 2020.

Rabbi Sean Cannon, UHS Head of JLL, explains, “Herzlia pupils and staff were determined to make this calendar highlight work this year, and followed Covid safety protocols to host a three-day, face-to-face event. Discover, as the name implies, gives our Grade 11 pupils the chance to really explore and understand their Jewish identity. For 2021, the Discover Reframed theme was all about reframing and shifting paradigms and mindsets. This year’s programme was dedicated to the late Eric Samson whose family have always been monumental supporters of the Discover programme.”

Rabbi Cannon explains, “Herzlia’s Discover programme is strategically planned for Grade 11s as it’s one of the final touchpoints before the final sprint of matric, and pupils segueing out into the world as young adults with a strong foundation of Jewish identity. Track records show that positive Jewish identity formation happens at this age.”

Marc Falconer, Herzlia High School Principal, explains that, “Discover is a really beautiful programme creating an environment for our pupils that is conducive to self and group exploration of identity. The Discover programme is quite unique as there are few opportunities for pupils to have the time and space away from the classroom for prolonged conversations on all facets of Jewish identity, including social, cultural and Zionism.”

Grade 11s share their experiences:

Ella Fanaroff, “I had such a meaningful time on Discover. It was an incredible opportunity to think about things I had never thought about before. The talks were so inspiring, particularly Elisheva and Rabbi Bloch.”

Jesse Klaff, “…coming out of Discover, I had a truly inspiring time. Elisheva Gilbert’s talk had an especially huge impact on me.”

Jamie Markovitz, “Discover was such an incredible experience, my highlights were Elisheva, Rabbi Bloch and just spending time with my friends”.

Geoff Cohen, Director of Education, says, “Herzlia’s Discover programme is an integral part of the High School experience, providing our pupils — now becoming young adults — with the opportunity of going away for several days and being immersed in Jewish life — something not all pupils may have experienced before, which provides them with real-world insights outside of the academic curriculum and regular classroom setting.”

Rabbi Sean Cannon adds, “We are grateful for everything that the Samson family, and Eric in particular, stand for, namely his values of honesty, integrity and building a beautiful Jewish future. It’s fitting to dedicate this year’s Discover programme to the memory of Eric Samson, because it’s these values that we emphasise on Discover.”

Website: United Herzlia Schools

• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.

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