Exciting chapter for Durban Jewry
starts with opening of new day school
By Lauren Shapiro
Umhlanga Jewish Day School, which opened in January, caters for Jewish children in the greater Durban area from Grade 000-Grade 5, and is set to expand year-by-year to Grade 7. With over 40 students registered on its first day, the school is already off to a great start.
This number is even more impressive when one considers the small size of the Jewish community.
Set amongst rolling fields of sugar cane, the school is part of a greater Jewish community centre campus which will include a shul, kollel, library, gym and function venue.
Gaynor Lazarus, Chairman of the Governing Committee, says, “our mission is to provide a leading General and Judaic education while kindling within each individual a passion for lifelong learning, and to foster a devotion to the study of Torah, a commitment to the land of Israel, and Tikkun Olam.”
Robert Sussman, who many in Joburg may remember from his previous position as head of the kashrut department of the Johannesburg Beth Din a few years back, has been appointed as Head of Limudei Kodesh.
Gaynor is assisted in achieving this dream by her team, comprising Rabbi Dr Pinchas Zekry, Stephanie Budlender, Ingrid Levin, Carryn Meltz, Terri Pillemer and Warren Shapiro. The school office will be run by Karen Plen.
The school staff has been handpicked from amongst the best in Durban. Principal Lynn Ducasse has over 25 years of teaching experience, most recently heading up the Bachelor of Education programme at Varsity College. She believes passionately in developing well-rounded children with a focus on their social, emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs: “We have a highly competent staff who will endeavour to identify and develop the strengths and weaknesses of each individual child; to ignite an excitement about education which will be the beginning of a lifelong journey.”
With these aims in mind, the state of the art Media Centre is equipped with Mac computers and a range of books to support both Jewish and general studies. The school grounds also feature a large outdoor section equipped with an Astroturf pitch, a mini hockey/soccer/netball field, a jungle gym, swings, a sandpit, an herb garden and a unique sensory path designed by Occupational Therapist Ingrid Levin to stimulate all areas of the children’s sensory development.
Kodesh Studies, which make up a significant part of the syllabus, is headed up by Robert Sussman. He will be assisted by his wife Noa, Rabbi Jarrod Garber, Rabbi Mark Friedman, Ariel and Ronit Garber, and Daniel Burke, who have relocated from Johannesburg to bring this vibrant Jewish school to life.
"This is truly a momentous occasion for the Durban Jewish community and it is an honour to be involved with such an important project,” says Sussman. “A Jewish community concerned with and dedicated to the Jewish education of its youth, is a community that is investing in its future. The question for Durban is no longer: ‘what will be left of the Jewish community in 10 years?’ - but rather: ‘how big will the Durban Jewish community get in the next 10 years?’ Jewish families throughout South Africa can now seriously consider Durban as a viable option to live and raise their family."
If you are interested in becoming involved in the school’s exciting future or sending your child to the school, please contact secretary Karen Plen on 083 2366453 to pursue your interest further.
NEW SCHOOL - Kiera Keates, Adam Levin and Galya Meltz are thrilled to be at their brand new school (in background) PIC Lauren Shapiro .jpg