Herzlia High School recently hosted their flagship Discover programme for the Grade 11s in their Jewish Life & Learning (JLL) curriculum – JLL is one of Herzlia’s core pillars integral to the academic curriculum. This programme invites Grade 11 pupils to engage with topics pitched at their level of maturity and life stage including meaningful self-growth; Jewish identity and interpersonal relationships. The iconic Discover programme has been a highly anticipated annual rite of passage event since it was launched in 1997 – none have ever been missed except due to Covid in 2020!
Rabbi Sean Cannon, UHS Head of JLL explains that “Herzlia pupils and staff were determined to make it work this year and followed Covid-safety protocols to be able to host a three-day, face-to-face event. This programme is always a highlight in the high school calendar. Discover, as the name implies, gives our Grade 11 pupils the chance to really explore and understand their Jewish identity. For 2021 “Discover Reframed” theme was all about reframing our paradigms and mindsets. This year’s programme was dedicated to the late Eric Samson. The Samson family have always been monumental supporters of the Discover programme, ensuring that the students receive the best quality experiential programme.”
Rabbi Cannon explains that “Herzlia’s Discover programme is strategically planned for Grade 11s as it’s one of the last touch points before the final sprint in matric and pupils segue out into the world as young adults with the formation of a strong foundation of Jewish identity. Pupils are beyond the adolescent teenage hump and ready and willing to participate in robust academic conversations with open minds. The track record shows that positive Jewish identity formation occurs at this age where paradigm shifts occur and workshopping more complex concepts in a healthy, safe and balanced environment may clear misconceptions or preconceived thinking.”
Marc Falconer, Herzlia High School Principal, explains that “Discover is a really beautiful programme creating an environment for our pupils that is conducive to self and group exploration of group identity and self-identity. The Discover programme is quite unique as there are few opportunities in schools for pupils to have the time and space away from the classroom for prolonged conversations on all facets of Jewish identity including social, cultural and Zionism.”
Ella Fanaroff, Grade 11, reflected that “I had such a meaningful time on Discover. It was an incredible opportunity to think about things I had never thought about before. The talks were so inspiring, particularly Elisheva and Rabbi Bloch.”
Jesse Klaff, Grade 11, shared that “coming out of Discover, I had a truly inspiring time. Elisheva Gilbert’s talk had an especially huge impact on me.”
Jamie Markovitz, Grade 11, says that “Discover was such an incredible experience, my highlights were Elisheva, Rabbi Bloch and just spending time with my friends”.
Geoff Cohen, Director of Education, “Herzlia’s Discover programme is an integral part of the High School experience providing our pupils, now becoming young adults, with the opportunity of experiencing something profoundly Jewish in an exciting, informal workshop-type conference setting with excellent global speakers. Pupils go away for several days and are fully immersed in Jewish life – something that not all pupils may have experienced providing them with real-world insights outside of the academic curriculum and regular classroom setting.”
“Discover Reframed 2021” was a structured, three-day programme with the first two days away at the Houwhoek hotel in Grabouw. The first day’s agenda focused on discovering “Who am I?” where Elisheva Gilbert, the CMO of Sasfin, shared her inspiring personal story highlighting the importance of setting one’s goals for the future. The second day was themed around the relationships that we have with our families, friends and communities with guest speakers sharing thought-provoking perspectives and ended with a sunset hike to get in touch with nature. The third day, taking place on a Friday, created the beautiful space to prepare for Shabbat back in Cape Town with a challah bake and Rabbi Cannon’s personal story and insights into the value of Shabbat as a family-enriching tool.
Rabbi Sean Cannon adds, “we are so grateful for everything that the Samson family and Eric, in particular, stood for, namely his values of honesty, integrity and building a beautiful Jewish future. It’s fitting to dedicate this year’s Discover programme in memory of Eric Samson, because it’s these values that we emphasise on Discover.”