From the Wolf’s Mouth – Spring Pleasures in New York

Some of you may remember these words of the famous English poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”.  After my recent wonderful spring visit to New York, I have justifiably granted myself the “poetic licence” to adjust these words to read “In the spring an OLD MAN’S fancy …………turns to thoughts of love”, because every aspect of my brief visit was so inspirational!

Firstly, on the human, inter-personal level I had the opportunity of reconnecting with many of the 1977 matric group of KDHS Linksfield at their weekend reunion to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of their matriculation class. What a pleasure it was to have the opportunity see my former students again!  Obviously, after fifty –two years in Jewish education I cannot consciously think about all my students every day, but I am pleased to say that seeing them suddenly face-to-face has the effect of prompting, like the memory key of a computer, so many warm and wonderful, long-stored memories that have been lying dormant in my subconscious mind.

For me it is truly gratifying to hear from former students of their gratitude for their schooldays at KD and their clear recognition of the part that it played in the success of their future careers. What is equally pleasing is that many have contributed generously to the King David Schools’ Foundation in their strong belief in the essential role of the King David Schools in Johannesburg and their wish to offer other deserving students the kind of educational experience that they had so enjoyed in their time at KD. Another interesting observation, one that this forty-year reunion certainly reaffirmed, is that as the years pass there is an exponential increase in the degree of camaraderie and connection to their schooldays!   

Thank you, Elana Sasto and Roma Blecher- Ossip and all the other Davidians, who provided me with this jolting, springtime experience – it certainly roused the hibernating wolf with a wonderful retrospective contemplation of warm memories.

Many of you are aware of my love of gardening and natural beauty, and this New York visit certainly provided ample opportunity for indulging in this pleasure.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the magnificent displays of tulips, daffodils, primula, etc., that so artistically adorned the pavements of 5th Avenue, and my experience on Shabbat in Central Park was a true pleasure with the dogwood trees, cherry blossoms in full profusion.

Last, but not least, I thank my colleague Raelene Tradonsky for the role she played in my unforgettable few days in New York – your kindness and caring certainly ensured that the “old man’s fancy” proceeded without any hitches.

Fond regards.

Elliot Wolf

Dynamic Davidian – Dr Brendan Gaylis (KDHSL 1977)

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 Dr Brendan Gaylis whom Elliot and Raelene recently met at the KDHSL Class of 1977 reunion in New York City.

Brendan Gaylis (KDHSL 1977)

Brendan Gaylis is a practising Head and Neck Surgeon at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. He subspecializes in Head and Neck Oncologic and Reconstructive Surgery and is the Director of the Head and Neck Oncology Section of the Scripps Clinic/ MD Anderson Cancer Centre.

After graduating from medical school at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1984 he completed his internship at the Johannesburg Hospital and then spent 5 years of surgical training at the University of Minnesota and Washington University in St Louis.

He has been listed in “San Diego Best Doctors” and “America’s Top Doctors”. He has presented papers across the USA and at International meetings and has published in both scientific journals and textbooks.

He proudly acknowledges his late father and renowned Vascular Surgeon, Dr Hymie Gaylis, as his mentor and greatest influence as a surgeon.

Outside of the operating room Dr Gaylis maintains an avid interest in tennis. He has been ranked both nationally and internationally in Open and Senior Tennis and was the winner of the World Medical Tennis Championships in 2008. He is also active in the San Diego Jewish community and he and his wife Merle are the current President and Executive Directors of a modern orthodox synagogue Orot Hacarmel in San Diego. Both his sons Josh and Alex live and work in San Diego.

He attended King David Linksfield from kindergarten through to Matric and says this on his schooling: “These formative years provided me the basic tools which I used to assemble the platform for my academic, athletic and family life. Jewish values and love for Israel were a huge and invaluable component and will always be an integral part of my self-identity.”

Standout teachers were Rose Cohen for matric English, Mr Van Loggerenberg for Afrikaans and Mr Jones for managing the tennis team. On Elliot Wolfhe is an unparalleled legend of Jewish Education in South Africa. He has devoted his life to this cause and continues to do so with the KDSF well into his retirement. His contributions and legacy will be cherished for many years to come”.

His most memorable sporting achievement at KDHS was being part of the 1975 tennis team that won the “Administrators Cup”.

Are you a Dynamic Davidian?

King David Linksfield 40 Year Reunion in New York City by Reeva Goldberg Milstein

Making their way from South Africa, Israel, Canada, various parts of the US and even Australia, the graduating class of 1977 met in Manhattan on the first weekend in May, to celebrate 40 years since their matriculation. What began as an idea for dinner for 5 in a Manhattan restaurant, under the organizational skills of uber-coordinator, Elana Sasto, burgeoned into a reunion of over 65 ex-Davidians.

The plan was to meet at Kehilat Jeshurun for Shabbat dinner, but hours before Shabbat made its entrance, mini reunions were already happening throughout the day at the Barclay Intercontinental Hotel, where most of the attendees were staying. South African accents reverberated through the old world elegant furnishings of the lobby. There was much hugging and excitement. Many participants had not seen one another for decades, many not since school days – so part of the excitement was trying to reconcile the person standing before one with the image of the teen we had last seen. As a group, we seemed to have aged rather gently- or, at least, that’s what we told ourselves and others.

As everyone milled around at the beautifully set up dining area of Kehilat Jeshurun, resplendent with huge gold KDHS 1977 balloons, “who’s that” began in earnest. Some people were easily recognizable, some less so. Sadly, some remained unfamiliar even after they introduced themselves – though this created the opportunity to forge new friendships without the baggage of past relationships. It was always a relief when somebody who looked totally unfamiliar turned out to be someone’s spouse!

A surprise appearance by Mr. Elliot Wolf greatly added to the evening. A sobering moment of silence was observed for those who had passed on, some quite recently while others at a very young age. We introduced ourselves by name and shared where we now lived. There was a prevailing atmosphere of goodwill, people were genuinely pleased to reacquaint themselves with their former schoolmates. The camaraderie was genuine, the affection palpable.

The next two days, buffered by an endless array of delicious food and drinks, the true purpose of the reunion came into play. Elana had the foresight to realize that this was way more than a social occasion. Our school system, although perfect for achieving academic excellence, was not necessarily the best fit for the variety of students who attended KDHS. The reunion became a forum for expressing their feelings, but- much more importantly – for creating an atmosphere of acceptance and healing. People spoke passionately about their lives and challenges, their triumphs and their frailties. Each speaker was awarded understanding and compassion, and for many it was extremely cathartic as decade old pains were addressed and, to a large extent, resolved. Somebody spoke about the importance of showing love. It seemed to be a lesson that was taken to heart. A very special closeness enveloped the group. It felt real and unaffected. It was exhilarating. No one wanted to leave. We committed to doing it again soon.  If the outpouring of feelings on the KDHS 1977 Facebook page is any indication, it looks like the momentum will not be lost. We’re looking forward to our 45th!

Elana Sasto did a truly incredible job, not only logistically, but also in creating the perfect setting and atmosphere. She was assisted by Roma Blecher-Ossip, who did a marvellous job of compiling and editing our biographical sketches and Brad Patt who compiled a meaningful collection of the obituaries. Ashley Joffe assisted Elana with the venues, Jeremy Coplan created a power point presentation of our collective photographs and Toby Tobias provided first class musical entertainment at our event on Saturday night. We are extremely grateful to Elana for what she created, which was very special.

Okavango – The Only Way to Go! By Dana Lazarus, Prize Winner of Botswana Trip 20167

Dana and Craig Lazarus were the lucky winners of the KDSF once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Okavango Delta, Botswana in 2016, which they took up in March 2018.

Judaism teaches the belief that donors benefit from giving tzedakah as much, or even more, than the poor recipients. Whilst this actually refers to the donor receiving the merit of sharing in Hashem’s work, we were lucky enough to benefit in the form of winning an amazing, all-expenses paid for, trip to the Okavango Delta for us and 3 other couples. We set off for Maun in February this year with an itinerary of two nights in the brand new, land based camp, Nokanyana and then two nights in the water based camp, Mopiri.

After we got over the initial shock that there would be no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi for the time that we were away, we quickly made our frantic phone-calls back home to say our final goodbyes to the kids and were then taken to these five seater Cessna planes that would be taking us to the camp. You know that there might be problem when the pilot starts seating you according to your weight in order to balance the plane – so we decided that it would be wise to split husbands and wives! However, it was a breath-taking to view the beauty of miles of untouched land and the awesomeness of the Okavango River and Delta from the air.

We landed and were treated to a game drive and coffee in the bush and finally arrived at the brand new Nokanyana camp. Isolated does not even begin to describe this place. The camp has been so beautifully built with permanent tents literally in the bush. We were told not to walk to our rooms on our own at night as there are no fences and the animals are “out there”. Nothing was too much for the staff and we had delicious kosher and vegan meals prepared every day. We all started to relax and spent our time on game drives, eating, drinking, laughing and not being distracted by our phones and the outside world.

Out next stop was the Mopiri water based lodge. Mopiri means “little island” and it is hidden away on the Western side of the Okavango Delta where we accessed it by boat and were greeted by the local ladies welcoming us with song and dance. There are only seven tents which stand on the edge of the lagoon underneath large shady trees. It is such a different experience being on the water. We went on sunset cruises and a day boat trip to the island where we did a bush walk and went on a mokoro trip – basically a two-man canoe with a man and his pole “poling” us along the river, hoping not to come across any crocodiles swimming alongside us. No one told us that this could be quite dangerous and we were quite oblivious to the danger as we were rowed up the river in absolute tranquillity.

This trip was a treat and a privilege. It is not often that one gets a chance to “cut-off” completely from the outside world, spend quality time with good friends and appreciate nature. On our last night, my husband asked me what us girls could possibly still have to chat about for hours on end? I told him that we were all at King David together (not necessarily in the same year but at the same time) so we have memories and know people from 20 years ago that we can still chat about. The men hadn’t heard the Bitcoin price, the Rand, a soccer result or any political developments for four days – no wonder they had nothing to say to each other!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the generous donor, the King David School Foundation and my lucky, generous husband for winning an unbelievable, memorable trip.

Win A Trip to the Luxurious Nokanyana Lodge, Botswana

In the next incredible Bush Getaway Fundraiser, which will be running from 1-28 June 2018, the KDSF will once again be selling entries to win ONE OF TWO dream getaways to beautiful Botswana, valued at R150,000 EACH!

Each prize, generously donated by an alumnus, includes:

  • Return flights from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo to Maun Airport in Botswana, for two couples
  • Return charter flights to from Maun Airport to Nokanyana Lodge, for two couples
  • 4 Nights accommodation for two couples at the luxury Nokanyana Lodge on the banks of the Khwai River
  • All meals and activities

WATCH THIS SPACE for more info on this unbelievable prize and how to enter …

 The Uber Story – A Story Worth Telling

We’ve all heard of it, we’ve probably all used it and we certainly can’t imagine a world without it.  

On Friday 4th May, the King David Schools’ Foundation proudly invited King David graduate Dynamic Davidian, Alon Litz (KDHSL 2002), GM Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, to address King David parents and alumni at a Dynamic Davidian breakfast event on the King David Linksfield Campus.

The presentation entitled “The Uber Story” detailed the incredible history behind the inception of Uber and the rise and growth of Uber internationally, as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Alon Litz eloquently explained the impact that Uber has had on both passengers and drivers across the globe.

Uber was established in South Africa in 2013 and unbelievably launched in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban simultaneously.  Currently Uber employs over 29,000 drivers and has over 1.8 million riders in Sub-Saharan Africa alone and the market is growing daily.

“The market in South Africa was unique and ripe for Uber’s arrival.  South Africa does not have a reliable transportation network, coupled with this, a need for providing jobs ensured that our country was ready for the Uber revolution”, explained Litz.  

Alon went onto to show the enthralled audience what the future plans and developments are for Uber.   Imagine hopping into a helicopter and “ubering” to your meeting across town.

A thoroughly enjoyable and informative morning was had by all with Alon sharing his knowledge and giving the audience a greater understanding about the past and future of an App that we take for granted.

The breakfast was the 10th in a series of Dynamic Davidian breakfast events in which the KDSF highlights outstanding ex-Davidians and their achievements.

PJ Library Launches in South Africa

The King David Schools’ Foundation was successfully able to facilitate the funding of PJ Library in South Africa. The launch of this amazing initiative took place in our schools during April.

PJ library is an international programme of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which distributes wonderful, high-quality Jewish children’s books monthly and free-of-charge to Jewish children, aged 3-8 years. Every month a new book arrives, providing a unique and accessible way for families to bring Jewish traditions and values into their homes, and encouraging children to have their own Jewish library.

Through PJ Library, over 590 000 books are distributed to children in 17 countries each month. The books have been translated into four languages, allowing children to receive books through PJ Library and its sister programme, Sifriyat Pijama in Israel.

South Africa is the 15th country to have adopted the programme and Jewish families in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban now have access to PJ Library books.

Lorrin Pimstein, co-ordinator for PJ Library South Africa recently returned from the 10th international PJ Library conference in Springfield Massachusetts. She had the opportunity to meet the team at the Grinspoon Foundation, as well as co-ordinators from Russia, UK and Australia and educators from the Israeli Ministry of Education, who all participated in discussions on book choices, partner organisations, social media and school-based programming.

Lorrin had the privilege of meeting Harold Grinspoon, a true philanthropist who is doing amazing work in Jewish Communities around the world. Harold envisions a day when all Jewish children around the world will have his books read to them at bedtime. He has little formal Jewish education and has made it his cause to strengthen the religious and cultural identity of Jews wherever they may find themselves in the world – both through the home and the school.

Lorrin explained, “Through the schools, we can use these amazing PJ books as a tool to help bring more Yiddishkeit to all Jewish homes, while at the same time creating quality time with parents and kids as well as improving literacy skills. It is a privilege to now have this informative, exciting and beneficial programme in South Africa”

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

Artist Adam Broomberg (KDHSL 1988) was recently featured in the Sunday Times with an artwork from his exhibition “Bandage the knife and not the wound” at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

The well-loved and inspirational play “Visiting Mr Green” will be showing for the first time in South Africa, during May and June, and will be directed by leading director Alan Swerdlow (KDHSL 1971)

Danny Popper (KDHSL 2001) won an art award in Mexico for the best emerging international artist.

Bryan Schimmel (KDHSL 1982) received his 10th Naledi Award nomination in the category Best Musical Director for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Entrepreneur Richard Rayne (KDHSL 1996) was recently acknowledged in an article featuring Leaders Beyond Corporate Culture for his work as CEO if iLearn

 

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

Adam and Riki (Green) Jacobson on the birth if a son
Choni and Lara (Nossel) Gavin on the birth of a baby girl
David and Belinda (Resnik) Abramowitz on the birth of a boy
David and Gila (Barit) Orkin on the birth of a daughter
Dean and Robyn Kantor on the birth of a son
Gary and Neala (Pincus) Swil on the birth of a son
Justin and Tessa (Rosenthal) Samuels on the birth of a son
Marc and Cara (Marks) Friedman on the birth of a son
Mark and Lara (Fish) Millner on the birth of a daughter
Neil and Yulia Braude on the birth of a son
Paul and Jenna (Ferrer) Tooch on the birth of a daughter
Rael and Naomi (Barsky) Brick on the birth of a daughter
Richard and Ricki (Grusd) Asherton on the birth of a daughter
Raffi and Leanne (Stillerman) Zabow on the birth of twin girls
Stuart and Lara (Morris) Bernstein on the birth of a daughter
Tyrone and Samantha (Hoffman) Waterston on the birth of a son
Wayne and Jodi (Cohen) Tanner on the birth of a daughter

Engagements

Alain Hasson and Hannah Glass
Alon Lanzer and Casey Chelchinskey
Ari Nerwich and Kayli Vee Levitan
Ariye Mahdeb and Melissa Osher
Brett Dembo and Philippa Joffe
Clifford Yudelman and Robyn Samuels Zinman
David Hirshowitz and Bianca Joffe
Michael Kaftel and Calli Creswick

Marriages 

David and Storm (Berchowitz) Sacks
Daniel and Isa (Orlianski) Witz
Gavin and Nicole (Goodman) Basserabie