Josh Blecher: on the road to success
It’s one thing to score in the highest possible percentile on international college entrance (SAT) exams and do advanced college-level AP maths and science courses. It’s quite another to break your thumb in a cycling accident a month before the end of school and still achieve those results. But avid sportsman and Cape Town Torah Academy (CTTH) student Josh Blecher took this “detour” in his stride as he cycled his way to success in matric 2021.
A born and bred Capetonian, Blecher went to United Herzlia Schools until Grade 9 and moved to CTTH for Grades 10 to 12.
“My favourite subjects at school were physics, maths, and economics, with psychology coming in a close second. Outside school, I enjoyed cycling and hiking. I also spent time volunteering as a Bnei Akiva madrich,” he told the SA Jewish Report in early January 2022.
CTTH is unique, he says, in that it allows self-pacing and self-teaching, and there are an “insane number” of available courses. “Combined, these things lead to a very personalised education.” “There’s something for everyone and every level. The system is designed to enhance personal growth and achievement. It gave me a positive experience every year of high school.”
He’s passionate about many things, but first and foremost, he wants to understand the world around him. “CTTH helped me by teaching me how the world works. I’m also passionate about living a balanced lifestyle. The school’s unique structure allowed me to adapt my school schedule to do other activities. For example, I went ahead in my studies before the Cape Town Cycle Tour so that I could spend just that little more time training for it.”
The toughest aspect of matric was finishing the school year after his injury. “The problem was that I injured my right thumb, and I’m right-handed. I couldn’t write anything for about a month, which left me behind in my work. Luckily, I could adjust my timetable to move tests. But I still lost too much time. I actually had to come back to school for two days after we finished the year to write tests. It wasn’t fun!”
Asked what the biggest achievement of his matric year was, he responds modestly. “I managed to fit in quite a lot of courses, including three maths courses. I realised at the beginning of the year that for the university degree I wanted to study, I needed both semesters of AP maths, not only one. The school could thankfully facilitate the extra course. My second biggest achievement was to manage to maintain a healthy lifestyle in spite of the amount of time I had to spend doing school work.”
In that context, his advice to future matrics is to “take the year seriously, but don’t be too serious and don’t compromise on your other passions and goals”.
His plans are open-ended in 2022. “I didn’t accept my offer at UCT [the University of Cape Town] in the hope I would get accepted at Technion in Israel. If I do get accepted, I’ll go to Israel somewhere around June. Until then, I’m going to work and relax with my mates.”
His ultimate goal is to study engineering in Israel. “After that, I have no idea! I’ll probably make aliya, but I can’t say where I’ll be in five years’ time,” he says. Whatever he chooses to do, he’s sure to be on the road to victory.