By Mark Helfrich, Curriculum Head, UHS
It was with great excitement that we received news from World ORT that two Herzlia matric class of 2020 pupils, Sarah Katz and Bianca Curitz, have been awarded the prestigious international Gina and Joseph Harmatz Award for Social Responsibility.
This award recognises students who have made an outstanding contribution to tikkun olam — our shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. According to London-based Chief Programme Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy, “this year we received many excellent submissions, and your students’ dedication to their project was exceptional. Our decision to present them with this award is a reflection of the dedication and commitment to social responsibility that they have shown in their work and the positive impact that they have made which we hope will inspire others.”
The winning project entry is best described by the project champions, Sarah Katz and Bianca Curitz themselves in their 2020 application, “As South Africa went into the first COVID-induced lockdown, we witnessed the students at our less privileged partner school, Gardens Commercial High, really struggling to access online classes. Sitting behind a laptop in an online class, we felt a responsibility to help where we could; to leverage our position of privilege to help bridge the gap, even marginally, between those who had access to online learning and those who did not.
“We set to work drawing up proposals, organising meetings with our principal, and making contact with students nationwide to try to understand the needs of the broader matric community. After speaking to the Gardens Commercial students and to our matric class, we formed an enthusiastic committee of 18 pupils to raise money for routers and data for our fellow students. We set up a Herzlia Matric Legacy Project Back-a-Buddy webpage, made phone calls to potential donors, and sourced mobile routers. After a focused campaign we raised over R120 000 and packaged a router, sim card and 30GB of data per month for each of the 108 students, to see them through until the end of their matric year. We felt connected to the 2020 matric year group in a way we had not experienced before, and a deep sense of responsibility to work and serve our South African peers.”
One of Herzlia’s key curriculum strategies is to produce global citizens who participate positively in both the Jewish and wider society. Sarah and Bianca and their fellow matric pupils of 2020 have demonstrated very clearly the impact that tikkun olam can have on helping to heal the world!
Website: United Herzlia Schools
• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2021 issue – Download here.
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