This year our theme for Discover was ‘Beyond the known’. We chose this theme to subtly convey to the pupils that so many of the elements of our lives are unknown to us, and even though we live in an age of unprecedented information overload, the inner depths of our essence are often outside of our awareness. Part of thriving in life is the ability to embrace and be comfortable with confronting the unknown in ourselves and within our life experiences!
The aim of Discover is to break the norms of our daily routines and create an opportunity to explore our inner worlds, from a perspective of Jewish religious exploration as well as relating to personal growth. To this end, we found a site that is both magnificent and remote. The soothing backdrop of the mountain and the lake facilitates rapid reflection and relaxed energy. In such a setting issues of Jewish values and identity, religious rituals, Israel sensitivities, and self-care are explored and dissected. A highly capable team of young adult advisors are strategically assembled to facilitate our sessions and forge genuine connections with the Grade 11s.
There is no doubt that it was a life-changing experience for many of our Grade 11s. Some of the comments were indicative of the effect being felt.
‘It was the best camp I have ever been on, I learnt so much about myself and about Judaism.’
’I kept Shabbat for the first time in my life, and I absolutely loved it. I really want to try to keep more of Shabbat back in Cape Town.’
‘I did not know what to expect from Discover, but I was blown away by the attention to detail and the organisation of the programme!’
’When I got home I had the most real conversation with my dad that I have ever had and we both were in tears, it was so beautiful!’
There are so many notable highlights during such an experience. The talks from our guest speakers and advisors included personal stories and life guidance. The soulful music sessions left the pupils dancing and swaying to a mix of traditional and modern Jewish and secular hits, performed so outstandingly by our music maestro, Ryan Lipman. The sessions and guest speakers were both meaningful and engaging. The ever-unique sound healing journey, incorporated the most unusual instruments, from Wuhan gongs to South American prayer flutes and many more. It was an activity that took our pupils out of their comfort zones, but all who were there understood the value of such an experience. The Shabbat meals were delicious and gave us an extended time to really sit and eat together, a forgotten treasure in the modern chaotic rat race. Our Shabbat guest speaker, ‘Rav Gav’ Friedman, blew everyone away with his unique combination of humour, wit, and depth. Elisheva Gilbert provided the pupils with an inspiring example of a high-powered Jewish woman in the corporate world who is also super engaged with her Judaism and communal affairs. The farewell banquet on Saturday night had the elegance of a wedding ball, not to mention the epic Havdalah that took place beforehand.
As the JET, we are so overwhelmed with gratitude that we are able to be involved in such meaningful work and we will strive to make Discover 2024 even better. We want to acknowledge every single person who played even the tiniest role in making Discover 2023 so very magical. There are too many to mention, but you are all so appreciated. We feel immense gratitude to Hashem for guiding our every step and enabling such a heartfelt, sacred space to be occupied.