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Ariel: Ensuring every child gets a Jewish education

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GILLIAN KLAWANSKY

“In building Ariel, we’ve incorporated this message. The building is beautiful and modern, yet the dashes of the different colours inside shout that message of inclusion, of being welcome and supporting to all,” added the rabbi.

“We are proud at the SABJE and King David Schools to have reached this point, and upon the opening of the school, we acknowledge Hashem for bringing us to this point,” he told the King David staff, donors, board members, trustees and parents at the event, which took place on February 15.

It was a fortuitous day, falling as it did on the same day that Cyril Ramaphosa was inaugurated as president.

As with our country, the launch also served as a celebration of a brighter future.

The modern building is situated on the King David Victory Park campus and boasts exceptional facilities and equipment.

The school opened its doors in January this year with 34 pupils and three classes – Grades 1, 2 and 3. Next year will see the intake of a second Grade 1 class, as well as the opening of the school’s first Grade 4 class.

Paying tribute to members of the SABJE for their decision to invest in a Jewish remedial school, Kacev said: “Just as we benefit from those who came before us, so too must we build and invest for those who come after us.”

Steven Joffe, chairperson of the SABJE, spoke about some factors that led to the building of Ariel. “More than 200 children have left King David over the past eight years to join remedial schools. Many return, but sadly, many don’t. Through Ariel, the SABJE has drawn a line in the sand – you don’t have to leave King David to give your child an excellent remedial education, and you don’t have to compromise on giving your child an excellent Jewish education. Ariel meets all our strategic objectives of excellence, sustainability and community.”

Joffe thanked the hard-working remedial subcommittee, led by Hilton Kellner, which oversaw the development of Ariel. He also thanked the King David Schools Foundation and its donors for the financial means needed to make the dream of Ariel a reality.

At the launch, Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein said: “We’re celebrating the fact that as a community, the statement that comes from the opening of this school, King David Ariel, is a very special and important one. It says that every child in our community is entitled to a Jewish education. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from or what their particular learning skills are or are not – and it’s that inclusion that we’re celebrating at this opening.”

Sally Ann Knowles, King David Ariel’s principal, spoke of her personal commitment and passion for what Ariel stands for. “My vision is of a community-based remedial school carefully designed to meet the individual learning needs of each pupil, with all the added benefits offered by the curriculum and facilities of a mainstream school.

“My vision was to walk into classrooms and therapy rooms in my dream school and observe happy, confident pupils who were fully engaged and excited by what they were learning every day. For me, that is what success looks like.”

She thanked the school’s “pioneering parents” for entrusting their children to Ariel’s care. Rooted as it is in Jewish heritage and values, in the holistic nurturing and development of pupils, as well as in excellence in 21st-century remedial teaching and learning strategies, the school is poised for success, she said.

“The generation we have the privilege of teaching need to be the generation of lifetime learners, given the constant change to which they are exposed,” she continued.

Referring to her time at Wits Business School, Knowles quoted from a lecture given by education expert Dr Jane Hofmeyr, who had said: “The twilight of schooling as we know it is the prelude to the dawn of education as pupils need it.”To which Knowles added: “I’m exceptionally proud to be able to stand here this evening and say that I believe that King David Ariel embodies her prophetic words.

“When I see those gorgeous, happy children every day, it makes coming to work an absolute privilege and a pleasure.”

In concluding the formalities, Rabbi Ricky Seeff, the principal of King David Victory Park Primary, hung a mezuzah on King David Ariel’s front door.

The idea behind the two schools sharing a campus is to facilitate integration between them. Pupils already share assemblies and play sports together; it’s all about extending the King David family.

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