King David Schools, Johannesburg

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For schools of the same name, see King David School.
King David Schools
Location
Gauteng, South Africa
Information
Type Private Jewish day schools
Locale Suburban
Exam board IEB
Grades preschool – 12
School color(s) Blue and White

The King David Schools are a network of Jewish day schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, offering nursery through high school education. There are three campuses across Johannesburg: Linksfield, Victory Park, and Sandton; "each school has an atmosphere of its own serving the specific community".[1] The schools are under the auspices of the South African Board of Jewish Education.[2]

King David aims to deliver "an excellent general education together with the study of Hebrew, Jewish Studies and the living of the Jewish calendar and year cycle"[3] and to produce "graduates who are menschen, confident and equipped to pursue any opportunity they wish to, who are proud of their Jewish heritage and its traditions, who have a love for learning, and a determination to contribute to their society."[4]

The Linksfield campus, in northeastern Johannesburg, was established in 1948 as South Africa's first Jewish day school (the high school was founded in 1955); see further under History of the Jews in South Africa. Many of the original buildings of the high school from 1948 still exist on the campus. As a relatively large school, King David Linksfield fields strong teams in several sports.[5] The Victory Park campus (primary school, 1960; high school, 1964) serves northern and northwestern Johannesburg. It has fewer students than Linksfield and is relatively more arts and culture focused (for example, offering Dance Studies, Dramatic Arts and Music as Matric subjects[6]). The Sandton campus, a primary school, is the most recently established (1982), and feeds into both high schools. Each campus also has its own nursery school.

The schools write the Independent Examination Board examinations for Matriculation; pass rates are historically very high, and pupils are often amongst the top-ranked, nationwide.[7][8] The King Davids also achieve in various cultural activities,[9] and, particularly Linksfield, in sporting activities.[10] Each school is involved in several outreach and charity programs, focused on the Jewish and broader communities,[11][12][13] including (matriculation) support and enrichment programs for Schools in Alexandra and Soweto. Many King David alumni are noted for their achievements, in South Africa and internationally – see Links below.

Although only a small minority of the pupils are observant – Johannesburg has several Religious day schools – the schools are (nominally) Orthodox. Practically, no school activities take place on Shabbat or on Jewish Holidays, all catering is Kosher, and the school day begins with Shacharit (Morning prayers). Educationally, each school has a Rabbi on staff, Hebrew and/or Jewish Studies are compulsory subjects until Grade 11 (Form IV), and the schools offer a "Bet Midrash stream" – established by Chief Rabbi, Dr. Warren Goldstein – for Grade 10s and 11s who choose this over the regular Jewish Studies classes.[14] The schools are also served by "the DIJE" (Division of Informal Jewish Education), offering programmes which "complement the formal classroom and allow learners to engage with and experience their Judaism".[15] "Encounter", for Grade 11s, is the DIJE's premier educational programme – it aims to "create a domain of conversation in which the participants are able to question, learn about and understand the relevance of Judaism in today's modern world."[16]

An interesting fact is that the two high schools were headed by identical twin brothers, Elliot and Jeffrey Wolf, from the early 1970s through the 1990s;[17] their involvement with the King Davids has continued since retirement, and they have devoted a combined 75 years to the schools.[18]

The King David Schools' Foundation (KDSF) is active in fundraising, with a dual focus on outreach and subsidies / scholarships. Relatedly, it also acts as an alumni association through monthly e-newsletters, reunions and other fundraising events. KDSF was founded in 1994 under the auspices of the SABJE, as a registered non-profit organisation.

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