Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) recently sponsored a group of South African teachers from various Cape Town Jewish day schools to join delegates from Australia, Canada and the USA on an educator’s trip to Israel, to celebrate their 120th anniversary.
On 4 July, 39 South Africans from United Herzlia Schools, Rallim, Cape Town Torah High, Sinai Academy, and Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School departed for an eight-day immersive tour experience of Israel from north to south, but most importantly getting a glimpse into broader Israeli life and culture.
United Herzlia Schools jumped at the opportunity to participate, investing in teachers and staff across their six schools from Pre-Primary to High School, to gain first-hand experience and a multidimensional view of modern Israel. The intention was to include teachers who were not necessarily Jewish and had never visited Israel before, so that their experiences and learnings could be used to inspire their classes with a sense of Jewish identity and a love for Israel.
The tour was organised by KKL-JNF to give teachers insight into Israel’s land, culture, society, and politics, and to better understand the country and its people. KKL-JNF’s hope is for teachers to return with a positive experience and be able to share this with their pupils.
Andries van Renssen, Executive Director of United Herzlia Schools explains, “We want to make Herzlia a place where Israel is visible and recognisable all around us. It is an exciting country and it’s our dream that we will be able to take all of our staff to Israel. Delegates have been tasked with initiating and implementing their new ideas into real life projects in a way that correlates with their subject area or in their work sphere. This way we can link Israel and Jewish identity holistically across the school, so that it truly lives in the daily life of the school and impacts our pupils.”
Rabbi Sam Thurgood, newly appointed Campus Rabbi of United Herzlia Schools reflects, “Experientially, I travelled the length of Israel in a way I never have before, getting to know my homeland far better and growing to love it more than ever. Educationally, it was a chance to see how to bring the best of these learning experiences to Herzlia Jewish Life and Learning. Socially it was the most wonderful opportunity to meet my new colleagues at Herzlia and to get to know these marvellous people in a relaxed and
Angela Van Wyngaard, Herzlia High School (Mathematics) says, “as a teacher, it is important for me to find ways to help my pupils actively engage in the curriculum. This trip has given me the opportunity to actively engage in learning about Israel. I am excited to use this encounter with Israel to create a platform of engagement for my pupils and hopefully encourage them to make their own journey and experience it first hand.”
Marc Falconer, Herzlia High School Principal: “This has been experiential learning that could never have been achieved without walking in the hills, bathing in the seas, tasting the foods, seeing the wild valleys, feeling the heat and drinking the water springing from the very rocks the Jews have been drinking from for thousands of years. I come back, moved in complex and profound ways, part of a privileged and transformed team who are all — collectively and individually — on a life-long journey of understanding and pilgrimage.”
Johandrie Oosthuizen, Herzlia High School (Afrikaans) says, “being in Israel makes it real for me and to have a better understanding of Jewish life. I now have a reference when my pupils are talking about Israel… the places, their religion and beliefs. I also learned that it is not all about war, which is what the media would like us to believe.”
Anela Sikundla, Herzlia Xhosa teacher: “What a great experience in Israel, KKL-JNF have opened their arms with love, caring and ubuntu. From day one when we arrived, we felt like we were at home. It was amazing to connect with all the other countries. We listened to sad stories from a previous life, ensuring that future generations will also know their history.”
Jos Horwitz, Herzlia Alon Ashel Pre-Primary Principal sums it up saying, “our experience together has been unforgettable on every level: emotional, spiritual, intellectual. Our connection with the land of Israel has been powerful. We have had fun, laughed and cried and our children will be richer for our personal transformation.”
• Published in the September 2022 Rosh Hashanah Digital Edition – Click here to read it.
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