Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Religious School Enrollment in Johannesburg Reaches 40%
by Yated South African Correspondent

Four Jewish children in ten in Johannesburg who attend a Jewish day school are now enrolled at one of the eight religious schools operating in the city according to the latest enrollment figures. More than 80% of Jewish children in South Africa attend Jewish day schools, with most of the remainder going to private colleges.

Despite ongoing Jewish emigration, the religious schools have shown steady growth over the past ten years. Most children from religious homes who leave tend to go to Israel or the United Kingdom.

In contrast, the three King David schools, whose guiding philosophy is termed "national-traditional" with Zionism as the central component, have suffered from falling numbers and have been unable to make good their losses to emigration. This year, for the first time in their 52 year history, the schools were forced to turn away Jewish children whose parents could not afford even the minimum fee required by the financially stressed schools. Despite their traditional emphasis on Zionism, the majority of children from the King David schools who emigrate go to Australia or the United States. The King David schools, while attended mainly by children from non-Torah-observant families, have nevertheless significantly deepened the religious content of their curricula in recent years and the numbers of religiously observant pupils there are growing.

The growth of religious institutions in Johannesburg, home to more than two-thirds of South Africa's 80,000 Jews, has been dubbed a silent revolution and has been gradually supplanting or taking over the city's traditional religious, educational and civic infrastructures. This phenomenon has been particularly pronounced in the youth movement scene, where the previously dominant left-wing Zionist movement Habonim has been completely eclipsed by Bnei Akiva. Concern has been expressed, however, over the fragmentation of the community and the effect this will have on communal funding.


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