From the Wolf’s Mouth – August: A Celebration of Women’s Day in South Africa

The 9th August is Women’s Day in South Africa, and for that reason we have dedicated this newsletter to our ALUMNAE and the other important women in our lives. It is significant that Women’s Day is celebrated globally, for without it the essential role of the “fairer sex” in our lives could be taken for granted. Observing the day gives us all the opportunity to honour the remarkable contribution of women to our society and the indisputable and indispensable role they play in our families and daily lives.
The day/month also commemorates the inspiring protest of women around the world to secure women’s rights and to effect equitable societies that gradually rid themselves of male chauvinism. It is remarkable that in today’s world, following the example of Golda Meir, there are the likes of Angela Merkel, Theresa May, our own Thuli Madonsela, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others, who fearlessly face the torrid political issues that presently burden our world. There are those who dispute this, but I believe that there is much to be achieved by having women in leadership roles, and feel relieved that their innate qualities of selflessness, care and affection could possibly make a difference.

Allow me to move from the macrocosmic world stage to the microcosm and personal level of my childhood home. No doubt, we are all influenced considerably by the part that women play in our personal lives – from grandmothers, mothers, wives and sisters. I realise now the significant influence that my late, multi-lingual grandmother, the matriarch of the family, had on all her grandchildren, and we all are indebted to her, ranging from her worldly knowledge and elevated intellect to the mundane skills of cooking, gardening and crossword puzzles! My mother, too, though deprived of the chance of a university education, compensated for this with amazing practical insight, candour, impeccable honesty and common sense, qualities that certainly proved very beneficial to my twin brother and me.

On another personal level I take the opportunity of paying tribute to the wonderful female colleagues whom I encountered during my professional career at King David High School Linksfield. I was fortunate to be surrounded by so many loyal, highly-efficient and dedicated teachers and admin staff, and will forever be indebted to them for the essential part that they played in developing that wonderful school and ensuring its world-renowned success.

And so, let us all recognise the significant role of the women in our lives and show our gratitude to them for the unique contribution that they make to our lives and society at large. In addition, Women’s Day should heighten our awareness of the continued violence and abuse that women still have to endure throughout the world, and let us turn our minds to those women who still have no political voice and who struggle to achieve equality and humane treatment.

I conclude on a light note and a quotation from the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher:

“In politics if you want something said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman!”

Best wishes.

Elliot Wolf


Harvard Report Back – Raelene Tradonsky

I recently returned from the United States where I had the privilege to attend a course at the Harvard Business School (HBS). 160 delegates from 20 countries enrolled for a course entitled ‘Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management’.

The course aimed to bring business thinking and strategy to the social space, to leaders who are endeavouring to make a difference in the world and where success is measured not just about making a profit, but about making difference to their community. The course centred on leadership and how business principles could be applied to non-profit organisations. This was particularly relevant, given that our measurement of success is not simply about profit and ‘return on investment’ but also about impact on society, a goal which is far more difficult to measure. And then there is the issue of sustainability, a challenge to any and all non-profit organisations reliant on donor funding.

The facilities of the HBS are simply fantastic- from the world-class accommodation to the beautiful buildings, with their perfectly manicured lawns and magnificent sculptures. Facilities aside, what was really impressive were the wonderful, energetic and inspiring professors and the fellow delegates whose causes ranged from the loftiest ideals of eradicating world poverty and homelessness, to preserving the heritage churches of England, and everything in-between. All of them were as passionate about their respective cause as I was about mine- sustaining our King David Schools as institutions of excellence and not denying this excellent education to any Jewish child for financial reasons.

While the lectures are presented to all the delegates, active participation in smaller peer groups forms a critical part of the learning experience.  In my nine-person forum there were delegates from Turkey, Sydney, Hong Kong, Korea, America and of course, South Africa, with causes as diverse as the countries themselves. What I came to appreciate is that despite our different backgrounds we have far more in common than I had ever initially imagined.

All learning is case-study driven, and the standard and diversity of each and every case study revealed what it is that gives Harvard the reputation it has justly earned.  Through these case-studies and subsequent peer group discussions, we learned some important lessons. These included:

The value of sticking to one’s core mission, despite the challenges and distractions that often cloud one’s thinking.

How important networks and relationships are to any business, but particularly to a non-profit organisation, reinforcing my core belief that in a world with so many good causes, ‘people give to people’.  

How important diversity is, and having the ability to recognise weaknesses within your organisation and to bring in others that may be quite different to you, to complement those weaknesses.

How essential communication, both external and internal, is to the success of any organisation.

How timing is everything- when it is a good time to start a new initiative and importantly, when to exit from one.

How critical the role of a controlling Board is to the organisation, particularly one in a non-profit role, as it represents the ‘DNA’ of the organisation.

How important it is to listen intently to your stakeholders and to give them what they want and not what you think they need.

And finally,

How one should treat and respect your staff, because ultimately they will be the ones who will ensure the success or failure of your organisation.

I express my gratitude to the South African Board of Jewish Education (SABJE) for affording me this truly stimulating learning opportunity, and look forward to implementing the thought processes and ideas which I was privileged to experience.  


Dynamic Davidians – Professor Sheryl Green (KDHSL 1981) & Ronleigh Gaddin (KDHSL 1992)

The KDSF is constantly on the lookout for Dynamic Davidians – alumni who have been hugely successful in their chosen careers and whom we can proudly claim as our own. If you are a Dynamic Davidian or know of any, please let us know!

This month, in support of National Women’s Day in South Africa and the remarkable achievements of our women alumnae, so many of who have distinguished themselves in their chosen career paths, we are thrilled to feature both Professor Sheryl Green (KDHSL 1981), a Professor of Radiation Oncology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Ronleigh Gaddin (KDHSL 1992), winner of the Europar Jewish Women in Leadership Award at the 2017 ABSA Jewish Achiever Awards, held during August.


Professor Sheryl Green (KDHSL 1981)

Professor Sheryl Green is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Her clinical practice is dedicated to the treatment of patients with breast cancer.  She is the co-director of the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, which focuses on the non- invasive delivery of highly targeted radiation therapy for management of tumours of the brain and/or spine (both benign and malignant).

Her clinical research is focused on optimizing the quality of life of patients undergoing breast cancer radiation therapy. Together with her psychologist colleagues, she has completed several studies evaluating factors which negatively impact quality of life (QOL) and have successfully developed and implemented specific interventions to minimize or prevent a decrease in QOL.

She is a member of several professional organizations including The American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology, The American College of Radiology and The American Society of Breast Diseases and has won many awards, including her most recent, “The Castle Connolly Top Doctors Award for Exceptional Women in Medicine 2017”.

On a personal note, she says: “I think back on my King David years with such fond and happy memories – I will always feel indebted to the school for an amazing education and for instilling in me a strong work ethic as well as the need to help others. In searching for a place to educate my two daughters – I looked for schools that were similar to King David in terms of the educational, religious and ethical principles”


Ronleigh Gaddin (KDHSL 1992)

Ronleigh is the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of the Amani Spa Group, with her primary role being business development, women empowerment and transformation. Amani is an all-woman owned and staffed business that has trained and empowered hundreds of women over the past 11 years. They currently employ 112 ladies, excluding those women employed throughout their franchises in South Africa and on the rest of the African continent. As proud as Ronleigh is of this achievement, and the focus within the company that exists in skills and life skills training, she maintains that she will never be satisfied with the level of intervention and the number of success stories they have to tell, and will never lose the focus on empowerment for women, as she continues to build the company. Education is very much the core of her business, and she believes that education, training and development are a lifelong process. Amani is passionate and committed to serving social responsibility, sustainable development and empowerment by creating jobs and uplifting local communities.

Ronleigh is proud of her Jewish upbringing, and a strong and supportive family. She completed her entire education at King David Linksfield, and is proud to be called a “King Davidian.”

Growing up, King David Schools and the greater Jewish Community was central to her home, with her father, Russel Gaddin’s, dedication and commitment to serving the South African Jewish community, as Chairman of the South African Board of Jewish Education and South African Board of Deputies.

“It is probably in the past 15 years, that I really began appreciating the privilege of being at such an incredible school, and understanding the importance of a Jewish education and embracing the wonderful experiences it gave me.  Between my parents and King David, I was taught the importance of Tzedakah, of being a true mensch, living with integrity and a code of ethics that I live by in both my personal and professional life, and with these I will continue to strive to be successful and make a positive difference in people’s lives.”


 Are you a Dynamic Davidian? 

King David Alumnae Feature at Jewish Achiever Awards

The 19th annual Jewish Achiever awards, hosted by the SA Jewish Report and sponsored by ABSA Bank, held on 14th August, was a spectacular event attended by over 600 people, including nominees, past winners, prominent business people, sponsors, media and members of the Jewish Community.

This year’s awards, aptly themed “Galaxy of Stars” received over 400 nominations in 9 categories. With August being women’s month in South Africa, the KDSF proudly acknowledges all King David alumnae finalists, who were recognised for their contribution to the Jewish Community as well as their impact and commitment in giving back to South Africa. Included in this category was our very own Raelene Tradonsky, Executive Director of the KDSF.

In the Europcar Jewish Women in Leadership Award, six of the eleven finalists hail from our King David schools, with the winner amongst them:

  1. Marilyn Bassin (KDHSVP 1982), Biokanyo, the Dion Herson Foundation – Finalist
  2. Raelene Tradonsky (KDHSL 1984) – King David Schools Foundation – Finalist
  3. Karen Schneid (KDHSVP 1985) – Ooh La La Artisan Confectionary – Finalist
  4. Ronleigh Gaddin (KDHSL 1992) – The Amani Spas Group – WINNER
  5. Kathy Kaler (KDHSVP 1988) – ChaiFM – Finalist
  6. Jodi Fittinghof (KDHSL 1996) – Jodam Manufacturing – Finalist

Women have the Power – KDSF Women’s Day Power Breakfast

On National Women’s Day, 9th August, the King David Schools’ Foundation hosted King David mothers and friends at an inspirational and moving “Power Breakfast”.

Over 150 women were inspired by the guest speaker, Israeli dynamo Sivan Ya’ari, who spoke about the ground-breaking work she and her company, Innovation: Africa are doing in Africa. With her unassuming charm, Sivan told her story of how she came to bring electricity and water to over one million people in rural Africa, using Israeli innovations.

When in her twenties and working for a denim manufacturer, Sivan was sent to Africa. Distressed by the poverty, suffering, hunger and a lack of clean water, Sivan was motivated to take action.  She went back to America where she studied International Energy Management and Policy at Columbia University , and developed the groundwork for what would become Innovation: Africa, a non-profit organisation that brings Israeli solar, water and agricultural innovations to rural African villages.

To date they have completed over 140 projects, which provide solar power to generate electricity for schools and health clinics and pumps to produce clean water, all enabling improved education, medical care and agriculture to over one million people in communities throughout Africa.

Innovation: Africa has won numerous awards, including the Innovation Award from the United Nations. Sivan has been recognized as one of the “40 Under 40 Most Promising Israelis” by Globe magazine and one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Israel”, by Forbes Israel.

Sivan ended her presentation with a message on the importance of education and how none of her achievements would have been possible without the education she received, and without the technology engineered in Israel. This message left the entire audience inspired and motivated to make a change in their own lives, and in the lives of others.

Sivan’s message proved a fitting introduction to a KDSF video which illustrated a “Day in the life of a King David school girl” and all the opportunities offered to King David students as they experience their day. The video then moved to Raelene Tradonsky, Executive Director of the KDSF, giving an authentic and emotional account of her days at King David Linksfield, a privilege she believes made her who she is today. Speaking first as the grateful recipient of a subsidy and then in her capacity as the Fundraising Director, Raelene appealed to the audience to consider signing monthly debit orders to assist in “sending a girl to school”. To watch the video, click here:

The morning was a fitting tribute to women; their successes, their struggles and their ability to effect change.

Keep a lookout for the next KDSF event which promises to be just as powerful.

*Photo Credit: Yael Gordon

King David Alumna Authors Book on Schwab Family: Things Lost – Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust

In his parent’s garage, Daniel Schwab (KDHSL 1993), discovered a trove of over 2000 letters belonging to Rudolf Schwab, his paternal grandfather.  For 35 years, Rudolf had corresponded with family and friends around the world, including a close childhood friend who became a Nazi, meticulously keeping copies of his own letters as well as the letters he received. The letters were donated to Yad Vashem, translated and catalogued. They then became the subject of a research project by Dynamic Davidian Dr Shirli Gilbert, an Associate Professor of History and Jewish / non -Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton, who during August, launched her latest book on this subject.

Things Lost – Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust

“In May 1933, a young man named Rudolf Schwab fled Nazi-occupied Germany. His departure allegedly came at the insistence of a close friend who later joined the Party. Schwab eventually arrived in South Africa, one of the few countries left where Jews could seek refuge, and years later, resumed a relationship in letters with the Nazi who in many ways saved his life. From Things Lost: Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust is a story of displacement, survival, and an unlikely friendship in the wake of the Holocaust via an extraordinary collection of letters discovered in a forgotten trunk.

Only a handful of extended Schwab family members were alive in the war’s aftermath. Dispersed across five continents, their lives mirrored those of countless refugees who landed in the most unlikely places. Over years in exile, a web of communication became an alternative world for these refugees, a place where they could remember what they had lost and rebuild their identities anew. Among the cast of characters that historian Shirli Gilbert came to know through the letters, one name that appeared again and again was Karl Kipfer. He was someone with whom Rudolf clearly got on exceedingly well—there was lots of joking, familiarity, and sentimental reminiscing. “That was Grandpa’s best friend growing up,” Rudolf’s grandson explained to Gilbert; “He was a Nazi and was the one who encouraged Rudolf to leave Germany. . . . He also later helped him to recover the family’s property.” Gilbert takes readers on a journey through a family’s personal history wherein we learn about a cynical Karl who attempts to make amends for his “undemocratic past,” and a version of Rudolf who spends hours aloof at his Johannesburg writing desk, dressed in his Sunday finest, holding together the fragile threads of his existence. The Schwab family’s story brings us closer to grasping the complex choices and motivations that—even in extreme situations, or perhaps because of them—make us human.

In a world of devastation, the letters in From Things Lost act as a surrogate for the gravestones that did not exist and funerals that were never held. Readers of personal accounts of the Holocaust will be swept away by this intimate story.” Wayne University Press

Dr Gilbert is a specialist in modern Jewish history with a focus on the Holocaust period. She is also the author of Music in the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, 2005) which examines the role of music in the Nazi ghettos and camps and the insight it offers into victims’ responses. She is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards and fellowships including the Angus Macintyre Prize from Magdalen College, University of Oxford; Dean’s Medal from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and the South African Association of University Women Prize for the top female graduate. Professor Gilbert is also Honorary Research Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand.


KDSF Sponsors New Classroom at Summerwood Primary

As part of the KDSF outreach mandate, King David Primary School Linksfield (KDPSL) provided their partner school, Summerwood Primary, with finances for the building of a new Grade R classroom on their school property. This was to accommodate the growing numbers of children enrolled at the school.

At a ceremony held at Summerwood Primary for the official opening of the new classroom, Summerwood pupils sang, danced and recited meaningful poetry for the teachers and staff of KDPSL and the KDSF. Elliot Wolf cut the ribbon across the doorway and the grateful Summerwood pupils sang a rendition of Hatikvah that our King David students would have been proud of.

A teacher delegation from the KDPSL School Twinning Programme in Israel was fortunate enough to be with the KDSPL teachers at the ceremony, and described the event as a highlight of their trip. They were extremely touched by Summerwood pupils waving Israeli flags and greeting them with “Shalom” on their arrival.

The relationship between KDPSL and Summerwood Primary is a true success story for the Outreach Programme, with pupils from both schools benefiting and learning from their cultural and socio-economic differences.

The KDSF extends our deep gratitude to two remarkable women from KDPSL, Dorri Ronald and Ingrid Rachman, who passionately co-ordinate and manage all the details of this exemplary partnership.

Alumni in the News

The KDSF is thrilled to introduce a new feature to our newsletter, which includes snippets of information about our alumni in the recent news.  Please send us any articles on alumni you think would be of interest and will be happy to feature them in the next newsletter:

Bev (Laffer) Greenhill (KDHSL 1987)  was featured in the Ayanda Mbanga June newsletter as the “Lawyer turned Entrepreneur” who 21 years ago shifted from law to retail to follow her passion.In the article, Bev, owner of gift and home deco business, Handmade by Bev in Sandton, gives advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs on the “ins and outs” of retail.

Jonathan Kaplan (KDHSL 1984) was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame at the Wingate Institute of Sport for his life’s work on rugby fields around the world. He is the 6th South African ever to be acknowledged.


High School Reunions

The KDSF works with reunion committees to organise High School reunions, which are always a fantastic opportunity for Davidians to reconnect with their fellow matriculants and enjoy nostalgic get-togethers.

The following reunions will be taking place this year:

KDHSL Class of 1997: Sunday 10th September

KDHSL Class of 1987: Thursday 14th and Friday 15th September

KDHSL Class of 2007: Sunday 22nd October (TBC)

For more information on the above reunions, or to arrange your high school reunion, please contact Gila Glazer at


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Clifford and Carri (Miller) Klug on the birth of a son

Daniel and Tali (Miller) Schay on the birth of a daughter

Darren and Talya (Levitt) Zwiers on the birth of a daughter

Eyal and Michal (Josef) Niv on the birth of a daughter

Jayson and Jodi (Rakusin) Kramer on the birth of twins, a son and daughter

Jayson and Hayley (Diamond) Lieberthal on the birth of a daughter

Liran and Dana (Rubenstein) Leibovitz on the birth of a son

Marc Efune and Dom Dix-Peek on the birth of a daughter

Richard and Gaby (Katz) Sutton on the birth of a son

Richard and Julia (Picker) Bricker on the birth of a son

Steven and Sara Kaftel on the birth of a daughter


Avi Meir and Monique Grusd

David Wolfson and Lori Sneech

Dovi Brom and Jade Weiner

Jared Kangisser and Farryn Schneiderman


Stefan Lebenson and Natalie Wood