From the Wolf’s Mouth – SEVENTY Glorious Years of KING DAVID

Reaching a seventieth anniversary prompts one to look back and reflect on the contribution our King David schools have made both locally and in Jewish communities all over the world. We certainly can take great pride in an educational system that now covers the whole spectrum of schooling – from pre-primary through to matric, and from this year, proudly, for children with learning difficulties at the primary school level.

Today our flourishing schools and their indisputable role in the Johannesburg Jewish community are firmly established, and their existence never questioned, but that was not always the case. I take this opportunity to remind all of us of the situation in 1947, the year when the idea of establishing a Jewish day school in Johannesburg was mooted, and when such a notion was highly controversial. There were strong arguments from many influential members of the community that it was foolhardy to separate Jewish children from their Christian counterparts, that it was absurd just two years after the horrific lessons of the holocaust. I salute the courage and amazing foresight of the early pioneers, Rabbi Kopul Rosen, Rabbi Goss, Louis Sacks, Solly Yellen, Max Greenstein and many others, who in spite of this vociferous opposition stood their ground. Thanks to the amazing efforts and persistence of these men, in 1948 to coincide with the establishment of the State of Israel, with just seven pupils King David began its illustrious history on the property bought in Linksfield on the twelve acres of Vrede Hoek, the magnificent Cape Dutch homestead of the late Mr and Mrs Mark. (Please refer below to the historic photos.)

In this the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the King David schools, with Victory Park and Sandton firmly established in the network and with a present enrolment of approximately 3300 students, there is little need to evaluate the enduring benefits of such an educational system and its commitment to offer a Jewish and general education to all deserving Jewish students. In my fifty-two years of involvement I have proudly witnessed generations of confident Davidian graduates, who face their futures with pride in their heritage and an ability to integrate into the general society as equal and highly successful participants.

On a more personal level I look back on my thirty-four years at King David High School Linksfield with immense pleasure, and am so privileged to have had the opportunity to share in the amazing success and talents of my former students. I have never had my own children but I feel blessed to have an extended King David family all over the world that has certainly compensated more than adequately for this! I suppose that there is much truth in the expression that “distance lends enchantment”, but I do recall occasionally the difficult side and the pressures of my former position – a school of 1250 students (at its largest), a parent body with great expectations and above me a solicitous SABJE. My exposure, too, to so many also brought with it not only sharing in all pleasures and celebrations, but also the painful times of family crisis and, unfortunately, bereavement. At the other end of the scale, shall I ever forget the 21st January and the amazing birthday celebrations that the students never failed to organise for me?

Finally, I must express my sincere gratitude to my extended family of Davidians all over the world for their support and warm friendship. I am blessed to have played a part in your lives, and am so grateful to you for your loyalty, generosity and kindness. Thank you for the part you play in ensuring that King David can celebrate its 70th year, and continue to offer the kind of education that you enjoyed to the many future generations of its students – may they in their time emulate your wonderful example.

Best wishes.

Elliot Wolf

Dynamic Davidian – Anthony Orelowitz (KDHSL 1983)

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! sassens@kdsf.org

This month, we are thrilled to feature Dynamic Davidian Anthony Orelowitz (KDHSL 1983), architect and founding partner of The Paragon Group, which won a number of awards in 2017 at the South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) Awards.

Anthony Orelowitz (KDHSL 1983)

With thanks to The Jewish Report: Designing the Johannesburg Skyline – by Gillian Klawansky (KDHSL 2001)

Driving through the built-up areas of upmarket Johannesburg must be invigorating for Anthony Orelowitz, considering just how many of the new and innovative buildings he passes, are those he and his company Paragon Group, designed.

Orelowitz and Paragon took home four out of seven awards at the South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) Awards of Excellence in Innovative Property Development, last month.

The Paragon Group is not at the cutting edge of architectural development in South Africa, they are the cutting edge.

And for Orelowitz, co-founder and owner of the group, a childhood passion for construction laid the foundation for building this legacy.

A breath-taking addition to the increasingly impressive Sandton skyline, the Sasol Corporate Campus on Katherine Street, designed in the shape of an “S”, is a shining example of the architectural excellence for which the Paragon Group is known.

The building ensured that the group won three of their four SAPOA awards, including one for Best Overall Winner.

They also won Best Innovation Project for the General Electric (GE) Innovation Centre in Glenhove Road, Houghton. They are also known for the striking Norton Rose Fulbright offices on Alice Lane.

Paragon is an internationally active African design company, which started operations in 1997 with just founding directors Orelowitz and his business partner Henning Rasmuss. Today they oversee a staff of 110.

For Orelowitz, the business was the realisation of a long-held dream he once feared would never be realised.

A King David alumnus, Orelowitz had early architectural ambitions. “My earliest memories, even in nursery school, are of building things,” he says. “My parents built a house when I was about seven and I found the process fascinating.

“The architect, Mike Challis, was very inclusive and largely due to him I decided that I wanted to be an architect.” Going on to do art and then sculpture at the Bill Ainslie Art Foundation as a teenager, Orelowitz expanded his knowledge base.

He also loved entrepreneurship. “A King David education teaches you how to be entrepreneurial; it drives the idea of being master of your own destiny. I never thought of anything but going into my own practice and I think that comes from this culture they fostered.”

Yet, in his final year of architecture at Wits, Orelowitz began losing his eyesight, casting his future plans into doubt. The doctors weren’t sure of the cause and of whether the vision loss would be degenerative, so they needed to monitor it over five years.

“After I finished my year apprenticeship, I got my MBA,” he says. “I then worked in Standard Bank in property finance for three years, until they were certain that my eyes were stable. Combining the MBA with architecture was such a gift. My work in property finance also steered me to commercial practice.

 The experience around my eyes focused me, providing the understanding that time is precious and you need to make the most of it.”

While the initial growth of Paragon was slow, expansion over the last five years has been rapid, with their staff complement almost doubling. Sustaining the company culture and maintaining quality control have therefore been challenges the company has had to tackle.

“You never stop learning. I thought I’d learned everything by the time I reached 35 and at 52 I’m discovering that the journey of growth and learning is just an ongoing process.”

With every project, client needs are central. “Aside from practical considerations like the way the building faces and what materials are used, the drivers of the design of our buildings are less about form and more about the quality of the user experience – enhancing people’s lives when they occupy these buildings, bringing in light and fresh air, providing a sense of volume and creating an evocative space that makes you want to go to work,” says Orelowitz.

“The building represents the people who occupy it. Our buildings are superefficient in their relationship to the environment and in terms of how people occupy them – they should enhance quality of life.”

In staying ahead of design trends, Paragon looks at global best practice and innovates against that, trying to make each of its buildings better than the last. “We continuously re-evaluate and reinvent both in our designs and as a business. Paragon is driven by its people; it’s not about an individual, but a collective of talent.”

For the last 10 years Orelowitz has also run property development business, Alchemy with CEO Greg Sacks and co-directors David Frankel and Steffen Schneier. “Architecture is a part of my life and property development with Alchemy is another. It’s been a great journey.”

Orelowitz is married to fellow King David alumna, clinical psychologist Zahava Aarons. They have two sons of 12 and 16.

Maintaining a balance between work and family has been hard, he says, especially in an intense industry that often demands long hours. While it’s got easier as the practice has grown, there are still sometimes all-nighters.

“You can only do that with the support of your family,” he says. “It’s been a collective effort, with my wife supporting my commitment to the practice.”

He has no plans to slow down. “It’s a passion, it’s not a job. I’m lucky; I wake up every morning and do what I love.”

NEWSFLASH! Anthony and his practice, Paragon Architects, won best Architectural Practice (for the second consecutive year) at the Best Professional Awards in February 2018. They also won the overall award of Best Professional Practice, an award that spans across all professions.

Are you a Dynamic Davidian?

King David Ariel – Another Jewel in our Crown

King David Schools have always been known for a holistic approach to quality education.  For 70 years, our schools have focused on building the potential of every child through quality education made up of excellent teachers, superb curriculum and appropriate facilities.  With this in mind, we are extremely proud of the latest jewel in our crown – King David Ariel – which focuses on delivering excellence in remedial education with all the benefits of a King David School. This includes shared assemblies, sporting fixtures and cultural extra murals with KD Victory Park Primary School students.

King David Ariel opened in January 2018 on the King David Victory Park campus. It currently caters for the foundation phase (Grade 1 to Grade 3) and will ultimately grow to Grade 7.  There are 8 fully equipped classrooms, a state-of-the-art playground, offices and meeting rooms for staff, a therapy centre for the therapists to conduct their therapy and teaching sessions and a “Snoezelen” room.  (A “Snoezelen” room is a therapeutic environment created for the purpose of delivering high levels of stimuli to students by using combined lighting effects, aromas, colours, textures and sounds).

Under the leadership of renowned educator Sally Ann Knowles and Educational Psychologist Genevieve Sandler, as well as a team of top teachers and therapists, King David Ariel will provide 21st century personalised learning and guidance with the goal of facilitating a smooth transition to mainstream schooling.  The specially designed curriculum aims to accommodate each learner’s needs through differentiated teaching and small classes, and will be aligned to the curriculum and school calendar followed by fellow King David Schools.  The teachers and in-house therapists will work collaboratively, both in the classrooms and in the Therapy Centre, thus ensuring that each learner maximises his/her potential in a supportive, nurturing Jewish environment.  

The school’s goal is to facilitate, coach, remediate and mentor the students so they are well prepared to ultimately enter the mainstream schooling system with confidence, character and a sense of community.

The name “Ariel” is made up of two words.  “Ari” which is the Hebrew word for lion, because we would like our pupils to exhibit courage and the tenacious desire to succeed and the word “El” which is one of G-d’s names indicating strength.  We will draw on our Jewish heritage to build a strong and caring learning community.  

As always, our grateful thanks to donors to the King David Schools’ Foundation whose generosity helped to make King David Ariel a reality.

Outstanding Matric Results for the King David Class of 2017

Mazeltov to the King David Matric Class of 2017, the teachers and staff for the incredible matric results achieved.  

211 King David students across both KD High School Linksfield and Victory Park achieved a cumulative 686 distinctions. 100% pass rate.  98.6% achieved university entrance. 16.6% of our students achieved 7 distinctions or more. 37 of our Matric papers were in the top 1% in South Africa.

All 12 students in the Educational Support programme at King David High School Linksfield achieved University Entrance and all 14 of the students with barriers to learning at King David High School achieved Bachelor Degrees. The group as a whole achieved a 76% average.  It must be noted that after the official remark, King David Schools achieved an additional 16 distinctions across both high schools.

The cumulative King David results were as follows:

5 students achieved 9 distinctions
5 students achieved 8 distinctions
25 students achieved 7 distinctions
11 students achieved 6 distinctions
26 students achieved 5 distinctions
23 students achieved 4 distinctions
3 students on the IEB’s outstanding list
3 students on the IEB’s commendable list
44.2% of all papers achieved an A
91.3% of all papers achieved a C or higher

The King David Schools’ Foundation is proud to welcome our matriculants as King David Alumni.  We look forward to following their future successes as they fly the King David flag high.

King David Graduates Continue to Achieve at University Level

Not only do King David students excel on a matric level, but they continue to do exceptionally well at university.

The latest undergraduate research results from the University of the Witwatersrand show that King David High School Linksfield is ranked as the second highest feeder school with an average pass rate of 89.2%.  King David High School Victory Park was recognised as a Top maths and Science School in South Africa by the University of Pretoria in 2017.

This information confirms that King David Schools prepare and equip our students for the challenges of tertiary education.

 Ubuntu Africa – Making a Difference

In the final event of the 2017 Outreach Programme, sponsored by the King David Schools’ Foundation, King David schools partnered the Diller leadership programme to offer a ‘skills camp’ to orphaned and at-risk children, for the third consecutive year.  From 30th November to 4th December 50 children were bussed from various locations to King David High School Linksfield.

Ubuntu Africa began in response to the horrifying statistics of child drownings that emerge in December each year. As in previous years, the Ubuntu Camp focused on teaching under privileged children, aged 4-7, drowning prevention techniques, using the King David Linksfield school pool and professional swimming coaches.

Over the three years, the Ubuntu camp has become much more than just safety and fun in the water. It is much more of a summer camp where the children are entertained with activities aimed at building self-esteem, fed nutritious meals and nurtured with love and care. On the last day the children were treated to a fun filled Christmas party, with a visit from Santa.

Through the generosity of the KDSF Outreach Programme donors, the anonymous donor who supplied gifts and crafts, and volunteers who so willingly gave of their time so assist with the children, the organisers were able to provide a fun and inspirational camp, wholesome meals and the necessary equipment to allow this camp to run effectively.

Natanya Porter, a KDHSL matric student and member of the Diller team who organises Ubuntu 2017, said “I have had the privilege of being part of Ubuntu Africa for 3 years now and it really has been an honour to be part of something so positively impactful. There’s something about giving back to the community. It fills you with a sense of purpose and meaning; a sense of what true achievement is all about; a sense of what really matters. Chessed, acts of love and kindness are powerful tools we can use to change the world. And there is nothing more rewarding than the smiles on those wonderful kids’ faces, the squeeze as they hug you so tight, the sparkle in their eyes as they experience something for the first time, the cheer as they achieve something they never thought they could, the love that they transfer when they are standing quietly next to you and put their precious hand in yours.  We go there to give and we end up receiving so much more.”

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: sassens@kdsf.org

Film editor Debbie Berman (KDHSVP 1996) was recently interviewed on radio station Cape Talk where she shared her experience of working on and editing the Marvel Movie, The Black Panther

Award winning playwright, Gail Louw (KDHSL 1968), had her latest play “The Mitfords” on stage for a UK tour which started in November last year and ended in February 2018. Early in February King David Victory Park Grade 8 Dramatic Arts Students were treated to a morning of exceptional theatre, when they saw the play Blonde Poison, also written by Gail Louw.

Professional Golfer, Stacy Bregman (KDHSL 2005), won the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open in February 2018. She was the only player to finish the tournament under-par, on a four-under 212.

During February 2018 Ceramic Artist, Lisa Firer (KDHSL 1987), displayed her latest ceramic work at Design Indaba Expo. She has also developed an exclusive range of products for the gift store of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town.

Leave a Legacy

Help us to sustain Jewish Education and King David Schools as institutions of excellence by nominating the KDSF in your will.

Mazeltovs

We loving hearing about your simchas and apologise if we have unintentionally left anyone out. If you would like us to include your simcha in the next newsletter, email Shana Sassen on sassens@kdsf.org

Births

Craig and Kirsty (Goldstein) Blend on the birth of a daughter
Danny and Sheree (Sack) Aaron on the birth of a son
Grant and Amy (Gamsu) Price on the birth of a son
Jeremy and Romy Hoffman on the birth of a daughter
Joshua and Charlotte (Fehler) Greenberg on the birth of a son

Engagements

Brett Lenertz and Jacqui Fine
Craig Segal and Cara Hollander
Darren Horwitz and Jessica Druker
Eran Michaeli and Danah Taylor.
Gary Vidergauz and Natasha Brainin
Ricci Goldstein and Sharna Berelowitz

Marriages 

Dale and Nicole (Courtney) Strime
Daniel and Isa (Orlianski) Witz
Darren and Shani (Sayag) Phillips
Darren and Talya (Chertkow) Epstein
Dean and Jaimi (Meyerowitz) Daleski
David and Nicole (Cohen) Papert
David and Tammy (Bourgstien) Dansky
Lance and Amanda (Pollack) Levitas
Shaun and Lori (Mer) Heyman