Back to the future

Matrics share their plans for conquering the world

By: Chandrea Serebro

Gila Odes, Hirsch Lyons Girls

One year plan….

Choosing what to do the first year post high school is possibly one of the toughest decisions to make, as this is the first time we are the ones defining our schedules and, in a sense, defining what’s important to us…what we value. At the same time, after being in the set structure of school, we all crave the ability to do something that is our own. I have chosen to split my year in two parts. I plan to learn in Eretz Yisroel in a seminary programme for part of the year – as I value Torah education and believe that further strengthening my grounding in Torah values will be immensely valuable. For the time I have before sem starts, I have enrolled in Boston College in a web and graphic design course, allowing me to enrich my creative side and be productive. In this way, both what I value and want are combined into one powerful year.

Five-year plan…

Anyone who knows me would say that I am the “plan-ahead” type. However, I am also one who strongly believes that HaKodosh Baruch Hu has an ultimate plan for each of us and He indicates where we should go throughout our life. In five years I would like to have experienced at least one year in Eretz Yisroel, be on my way to completing some qualification and building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel (a faithful Jewish home).

Emigration or patriotism?

Patriotism. Firstly, as a Jew my home is Eretz Yisroel – where we as a nation can truly flourish when we live a Torah Lifestyle. Secondly, I am patriotic to my birthplace of South Africa where we are blessed to be in a society that has been remarkably tolerant of our lifestyle, and we have a strong Jewish Community whose ability to accept every person for who they are is truly remarkable.

What is your ideal future?

We articulate our ideal dream for the future every time we recite the Shema – a future where the entire world appreciates and desires a connection with HaKodosh Baruch Hu. That is my dream!


Levi Goldstein, Hirsch Lyons Boys

One year plan…

In the upcoming year I will be studying in yeshiva in Israel because I feel that Torah learning is very important.

Five year plan…

Over the next five years I intend to go to yeshiva in Israel and return to learn at the Yeshiva Gedolah in Johannesburg. I would also like to study for a degree through UNISA.

Is there a future in South Africa?

I have full intentions of returning to South Africa because South African Jewish community, in general, and the Johannesburg Jewish community, in particular, are vibrant, dynamic, and unique Jewish communities which offer much opportunity for growth and development in Torah and mitzvos.

Dream for the future…

My ideal dream for the future is to be a Torah Jew and live a life of Torah and mitzvos. No matter where I am in the world or what I am doing, I will live a life that is based on and centred around Hashem’s Torah and His mitzvos.

Yitzi Gilbert, Mesivta Shaarei Torah

After school plans – the one year plan…

I believe that for each individual the gap year provides different opportunities. Personally, I will be going to Israel to learn in Yeshiva. My programme is for one year, but if all goes well I plan to stay for a few years. This next year is a crucial one in helping us each choose the path which we shall take in life. Both my parents and my school have shown me the Torah way of life. I now go off to Yeshiva to continue on the path which they have shown me. With the wind already in my sails, please G-d, it shouldn’t be too difficult for me to make the transition and keep going without slowing down.

The five year plan…

I’m not sure. In an ideal situation I would like to spend the next 3 years in Israel learning in Yeshiva. Then after that to return to SA to study law, or, possibly, to return to Israel as a married man to keep on learning. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what G-d has planned for me.

Is there a future in South Africa?

There is a future in SA, I know people think there isn’t, but if we believe that there is a future, then who will defy us? Where will the Jewry of South Africa be if we all pack up and leave? The country needs us more than they believe. We, the Jews of South Africa, have inspired the world over. Why stop now? What I believe is most important for patriots to remember is that first you are a Jew then second is your nationality. Not the other way around.

Ben-Tziyon Opert, Cape Town Torah High

What are you doing after school?

These seemingly innocent words can turn any teenager’s blood cold and stop them in their tracks. They’ll most likely break down in a cold sweat and think long and hard for any reply that might even resemble an answer, without realising the question was a simple attempt at polite conversation. Not having a definite long-term plan is a situation that can plague any student, although it shouldn’t. The reason that I’m saying all this is because, of course, this was my reaction when asked what I was doing after school. I’m a person that doesn’t really make long-term plans. I don’t believe in them. I’m a take each moment day-by-day kind of person. An apt synonym that my parents are fond of is “lazy”.

Yeshiva or University?

Next year I will be attending the Yeshivah Gedolah of Johannesburg. I’m going because my religious identity is important to me. It’s a family tradition (that, and my parents confiscated my house keys). After that, I can’t honestly say what I’ll do for sure. Currently I’m planning on attending university, enrolling in English Studies, but I can’t be sure that my interests won’t change in a year.

What does the future look like?

The thing about predictions is, as Niels Bohr so eloquently put it, “They’re difficult to make, especially about the future.” Who knows what will happen in a year? Currently I plan to attend Yeshiva. The next year, possibly university, maybe in South Africa, maybe not. But that’s not important. As the year began nearing the end, I initially felt concern since, whenever someone would ask me what I was doing next year, I could never give him a definite answer. Now, however, I’ve decided to embrace it. No one can tell the future, except for G-d…and your mother – but that’s only retroactively, after something breaks. Next year, I’ll be in Johannesburg, learning Torah and planning for the year after that. At any rate, I do plan to remain in contact with my family and friends that have allowed me to blossom into the philosophical theorist that I am today.

Pinni Katz, Torah Academy Boys High School

School’s out – what now?

Most students are overjoyed when they graduate from high school. They feel that they have completed their basic educative process and believe they are finally on the threshold of a period of “freedom” from tiresome learning and mandatory studies. This coming year I will, G-d willing, be furthering my studies at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, New Jersey. I see the end of school not as an escape from learning, but rather as a door of opportunity that has just been opened for me to acquire further knowledge and skill, in the various ways I have always wanted to. I see this new chapter as a beautiful beginning – growing and enhancing my life, not because I am required to, but rather because I want to and choose to.

Army service or yeshiva?

Yeshiva has always been a place to which I longed to go. It’s a place where one can grow physically and spiritually in a warm and secure environment. A place where many different people from different walks of life come together and do something positive – learning through the Torah with the hope of internalising its magnificent messages. Yeshiva is where great friendships are born. Friendships which influence friends to achieve greater heights through increasing in their good deeds, Torah knowledge and outreach to those who may need it most.

How will you identify yourself as a Jew?

As I begin my personal preparations to go to Yeshiva overseas, I feel great excitement and joy. I know that in the new environment, I will not only identify as Jewish, but I will “wear” my Jewish identity as a badge of honour. When I’m sitting in Yeshiva, concentrating to internalise and understand the intricacies of the words written in the holy books before me, or when I go out into the public sphere to help men and women re-connect with our incredible heritage, I will feel my own Jewish soul burning within me with fiery passion and pride. I will wake up daily to the sweet sound of Torah and go to sleep with its beautiful words still ringing in my mind.

What do you hope to gain?

I feel privileged to have been given such an incredible chance to be able to take on this new journey. I hope as I venture forward into the next phase of my development as a Jew and as an adult that I will mature on every level. I hope that I will return home equipped and able to impart and share my inspiration and knowledge with others, helping them grow in their own lives and in their own ways. In this vein, we have been gifted with the amazing opportunity to contribute to the unifying and strengthening of our great Jewish nation.

Talya Abrahamson, Torah Academy Girls High School

Gap year or study?

I always planned on taking a gap year in Israel as I plan to go to Rosenfeld Seminary in September 2018. Then, of course, the daunting question of what I would do in the eight months (January-August) before I leave perpetually came up. I was given the opportunity to go work at Chabad of Hong Kong, where, along with seminary, I hope to strengthen my foundation in Yiddishkeit and continue to give back to the Jewish community.

What does your yiddishkeit look like, leaving school?

Torah Academy Girls High School has instilled in me a love and passion for Judaism. It not only provided formal lessons in the classroom with teachers and rabbis who far surpass the definition of knowledgeable, but also an informal framework in which we could explore the different aspects of Yiddishkeit without judgment or pressure. Yiddishkeit defines who I am and I endeavour to continue learning to facilitate my continuous growth by going to seminary and thereafter carrying those lessons with me always.

Five year plan…

After seminary I want to be a head councillor at a camp in California to fulfil my passion of working with children while educating them in the ways of Torah. I then plan on going to Wits University to study a B.Mus in music as playing the piano has been in an integral part of my life. In the hope of combining my passion for working with children and my love for music, I am looking to complete a degree in music therapy. In an ideal world I would like to have completed my degree and have started a family within the next five years. My choice of career is such that I would be able to raise a family without compromising either one of these important facets in my life. However, as the saying goes, “Man plans and G-d laughs,” and as I embark on the next stage of my journey I pray that Hashem continues to guide me in achieving all of my goals and aspirations.

Adam Lazer, Yeshiva College Boys

Army service or Yeshiva?

Without a doubt, both Yeshiva study and army service are wonderful ways of experiencing the land of Israel. On the one hand, learning about the different masechot (tractates) in gemara and perakim (chapters) in Torah in the place where they actually happened is such an amazing opportunity. On the other hand, I feel a strong pull to serve in the army in order to defend the Jewish State, for which so many died protecting. Both the army service and Yeshiva study entice me and encourage me to deepen my connection to Israel and, perhaps, one day, I will be able to do both.

What does your Zionism look like?

Definitely, during my school career, the exposure to Zionistic ideologies, both in the classroom as well as during Bnei Akiva Tochniot, has shaped my appreciation and understanding of Israel. This has positively impacted on my love for Israel since I understand more about the land of my heritage that was given to Avraham Avinu. I believe I can continue having this Zionism in the future by going to Yeshiva in Israel to study for a year. By experiencing the land for myself, it will improve and keep my love for Israel alive.

Bucket list…

I would love to do something positive that will impact not only myself, but those around me. I would say volunteering in any form or way in Israel is a definite bucket list activity that I would love to do.

Michal Chipkin, Yeshiva College Girls

Plans for next year…

I’d like to go to seminary because I enjoy learning and developing a stronger connection to my Judaism and my spirituality.

What will you take with you next year?

I was very lucky to be at a school that practices and imparts the ideals of religious Zionism on a daily basis. I really hope to continue this connection through my gap year in Israel and through the way I choose to live my life afterwards.

Bucket list….

There are so many things that I look forward to achieving, such as gaining a different world view through travel, becoming a Bnei Akiva madricha, and getting a degree.

Adam Blumenthal, King David Linksfield

Dream as a graduate…

Developing rapid diagnostics medical equipment that is cheap and affordable.

Emigration or patriotism?

Definitely in South Africa. South Africa is my home and I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a privileged community. Being privileged means that I need to use my privilege to help uplift others in South Africa who have not been as fortunate as me. South Africa is a very vibrant country with many issues and by staying in South Africa I feel that I will be able to help do my part to fix these issues.

Gap year or not?

No gap year for me because I want to get started with my degree. For me as an individual, I don’t think a gap year is the best option, but going on a gap year is an individual decision.

Five year plan? 

I’ll be studying biomedical engineering at Wits for the next three years, then I’ll do two years of Electrical Engineering – so after five years I’ll have two degrees. While at University, I’ll also try be involved in student life and my youth movement Habonim Dror.

20 year plan?

I’ll hopefully be able to have developed, or help to develop, medical technology that will make rapid diagnostics cheap, affordable, widely available, and easy to use, so as to make medical care and treatment more proactive rather than reactive. I’ll also be trying to make the world a better place.

Rachel Weisz, King David Victory Park

Bucket List…

My bucket list includes an extensive list of TV series that I need to catch up on. I am also looking forward to starting my degree at UCT – B.Com LLB.

Where will you live?

Definitely SA – because I have developed a strong connection with our country and would ideally prefer to give back to this magnificent country.

Gap year or not?

Not interested in a gap year because I am eager to head straight into my future career.

The future…

Move to UCT – learn how to be a responsible citizen and graduate with my degree. Stay in SA, and start an education-based NGO as I believe strongly in uplifting the future generation through education and the voices of the youth.

Moshe Lever, Yeshiva Maharsha Boys

Five year plan…

I have seen that matric is not an end to education, but rather a beginning; a beginning of maturity and growth. I embark on the next stage of my journey, Yeshiva in Israel. This will give me the opportunity to connect more deeply to my Judaism, under the guidance of Torah giants. I hope to grow in all aspects of my life. I see this upcoming year as an opportunity to realise my hope of coming closer to fulfilling my potential in Torah learning and self-growth. I am focusing for now on higher learning in Yeshiva, before deciding on a professional path. I hope the approaching five years will see me grow as much as I have over the past years.

What does your ideal future look like?

My ideal future encompasses a life filled with Torah as well as success in all my endeavours. I aim to have a balance between learning Torah and earning a stable parnasah. I hope to contribute to society and be an asset to the Jewish community by giving my time to help others, in order to give back as an appreciation for what I have received.

How has this changed since you were little?

When I was little I paid very little attention to the importance of education. I did not forecast a future in which I would play a role in society. Over the years, with the help of my parents and the teachers of Yeshiva Maharsha, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of education as a medium through which to grow spiritually and intellectually. I look forward to continued growth through education in every sphere of my live. I aspire to give to society both through my knowledge and career.

Emigration or patriotism?

I vouch for patriotism. Being proudly South African, I see a future for South Africa. It is up to us, the youth, to build South Africa and ensure its economic development and growth. I hope to contribute to this growth, in time, by joining the workforce. South Africa has a strong Jewish community of which I would like to remain an integrated element, and help to contribute towards its growth.

Shuki King, Darchei Noam

Five year plan…

I plan to attend Vega design college to work towards achieving a Bachelor’s in graphic design. My school has assisted me with studying the arts to a great extent.

How has this changed since you were little?

Ever since I was little, I have always had immense passion for the arts and I am fascinated by the world of design and graphics.

What does your Jewish identity look like?

I am truly proud of my Jewish heritage and cherish Judaism. I will always follow in the footsteps of G-d with great pride and happiness.

How has school moulded you for the future?

My school career has been the most amazing and thrilling journey. I have been greatly privileged by having the most incredible and profound teachers. I have created so many friendships with my school peers, as well as my tutors. My teachers, principal, and director have gifted me with incredible knowledge and given me the key to unlock the exciting future ahead.

Melissa Moritz, Herzlia

What is your five year plan?

This question always tends to baffle me, as I’m one for spontaneity. Next year I’m doing a five month gap-programme called Israel By Choice. It is an Australian-run programme that aims to allow students that are not affiliated with a youth movement to experience Israel and volunteer in various communities. Afterwards, my plan is to attend a two month Ulpan at Hebrew University which will allow for an easier transition into the academic Mechina, called Basis, that follows after Sukkot. The academic Mechina will last a year, which will give me a platform to study subjects in Hebrew and convert my NSC results into the Israeli psychometric results. Thereafter, I hope to continue my studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in either Diplomacy or Life Sciences. I’m reluctant to plan further than five years, but I would like to imagine that I am able to do a post-graduate degree either in Israel or internationally.

Why are you choosing this post school opportunity?

Choosing to leave my home in Cape Town has always been one of my dreams, as I have a burning desire to gain exposure to the cultural melting pot that Israel offers. I knew that my after-school destination would be Israel. In July 2016 and July 2017 I went to Israel on the Diller Teen Fellowship programme as a participant and then as a counsellor, and this opened my world to many potential pathways. I soon discovered that the world is my oyster. I still haven’t pinpointed what degree I want to study so choosing to take time to discover this was a necessity.

What is your biggest dream and how do you plan to achieve it going forward?

My biggest dream is to combine public speaking and community service and create a career out of it on a global scale. I’ve always admired pioneers who have established themselves and, in doing so, uplifted previously neglected communities.

Kira Meltzer, Herzlia

What’s next?

In the interim period between school and university, I have organised a two-month internship in Israel which will give me a sense of life abroad. Ultimately, I would like to combine my interests in the environment, anthropology, and science, but the order in which I approach these various degrees is not cast in stone. As long as I am challenged on a daily basis and stimulated by my studies, I will be satisfied. My ultimate goal is to apply the knowledge that I learn from these various fields and to make a difference in whichever way possible.

Five year plan…

I don’t have a set five year plan as such, and have realised that I need to be flexible with the way in which I approach the next few years. With the unrest at local universities I have decided to keep my options open and take things as they come.

Emigration or patriotism?

My dream would be to stay here in Cape Town. I absolutely love it here, from the sea to the mountains and everything in-between; the place just resonates with me. I had always wanted to attend a local university and thereafter further my studies abroad, however, with all the unrest that universities in South Africa have recently faced, I have realised that it is best to operate on a day-to-day basis rather than to plan everything in advance.

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