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Our Jewish Life

jewish life at theodor herzl

The moral development of our pupils is a priority that weaves its way through everything we do at Theodor Herzl.
Our warm & caring environment emphasizes universal values rooted in Judaic tradition, where our childrens’ potential is nurtured on a spiritual, physical, emotional and cognitive level.
Founded in 1959 by the Jewish Community of Port Elizabeth, Theodor Herzl serves as the centre for Jewish education in the Eastern Cape.
The demographics of the school now includes both Jewish and non-Jewish students and reflects an incredible balance of educational and cultural values representative of our rainbow melting pot of modern South Africa.
jewish life at theodor herzl

Judaica programme

The Judaica Department at Theodor Herzl has a full and diverse educational programme. Our picturesque campus borders the Baakens Valley in the tranquil suburb of Walmer and boasts a fully functional Synagogue and kosher kitchen facilities. The Judaica Department welcomes students and families of diverse Jewish traditions and beliefs within the Jewish community, joining together in a common Judaic learning experience.
Theodor Herzl’s Judaica programme aims to sow the seeds of a love for Yiddishkeit through group interactive classes, using traditional sources, music, art, baking and multimedia to create meaningful and memorable learning experiences.

The schools’ programme for Jewish learners includes:

The study of the weekly Torah portion, learning lessons that the children can relate to and apply to their personal lives.
An appreciation and understanding of the customs, practices and laws that relate to daily life, Jewish Festivals and High Holy Days as well as a love for the land of Israel.
An encouragement of students to understand the value of performing mitzvot with all one’s heart and soul, and by doing so changing one’s life and making meaningful difference in the lives of others.
The study of Hebrew from Grade one to nine, enabling students to read proficiently, participate meaningfully in prayer services and hold a basic conversation in Hebrew
An understanding of the Jewish People’s challenges and accomplishments from ancient times to the present.
The appreciation of the moral and ethical values of Judaism as an integral part of the student’s life.

Festivals for all

The yearly Jewish Cycle is comprised of many joyful festivals that colour the Jewish faith and are enjoyed by staff, students, parents, and all members of the Theodor Herzl Family. They are an essential slice of life at Theodor Herzl, embraced every year as an opportunity to impart timeless values like kindness, benevolence, responsibility, accountability, respect, integrity, compassion, and empathy.

Some insight into the Jewish celebrations at Theodor Herzl include:


Channukah – celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the time of the Maccabees. The making of “Channukah menorahs” is a highlight for the Jewish children currently.

Tisha b’Av

“The three weeks” of mourning begins with the fast of the seventeenth of Tammuz and culminates with the fast of Tisha b’Av when both our first and second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. Our Sages teach us, that amongst the reasons for their destruction, was baseless hatred and negative speech. At Theodor Herzl we therefore teach our children the importance of positive speech during this time.
tashlich rosh hashana 1

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur – is the celebration of the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement. At Theodor Herzl we educate our students for these High Holy Days by way of assemblies where the themes of renewal, justice, repentance, and change are shared, and the value of unity is sounded by way of the blowing of the Shofar. The Tashlich ceremony takes place in the beautiful indigenous park beside the river, behind Theodor, between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret & Simchat Torah

Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret & Simchat Torah – At Theodor Herzl we build Sukkot (temporary dwellings) and we wave the four species. We educate our children to the fact that our temporary existence on earth is an opportunity to perform mitzvot and to acknowledge G-d’s presence in the world.
sukkot 1


Shavuot celebrates the spiritual redemption of the Jewish people with the Giving of the Torah. Shavuot is also linked to the wheat harvest season. At Theodor Herzl, special assemblies are held, songs are sung, and pupils offer gifts of fruit and vegetables to the poor. Torah serves as a unified symbol for G-ds presence in the world.

Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat is the “New Year” of the trees and at Theodor, everyone participates in planting trees, vegetables, and herbs. The Judaica and Eco Forum share the importance of playing an active role in greening our planet and acting as ‘guardians’ of our beautiful world.
Lag B’Omer

Lag B’Omer

Celebrates the theme of “ve ahavta lerei-acha kamocha” translated means “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow rather Love him like you love yourself.” This universal theme is celebrated by all around a bonfire, accompanied by delicious burgers, music, fun activities, and stories by the Rabbi.

Holocaust Day

Holocaust Day commemorates the remembrance of all victims of the World War Two Holocaust. The message of “Never Again” is re-iterated for the past, present and the future generations.


Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people in Ancient Persia as told in the Megillat Esther. This festival is celebrated by students, staff and parents masquerading in fancy dress parades, all sharing their creative expression in a unified and fun-filled way. Charity and Food parcels are encouraged and shared, in accordance with the special mitzvot of the day.


Pesach (Passover) celebrates the redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Ancient Egypt. An important message shared, is the understanding that no one should be a slave to any person or anything.


Jewish Holidays 2024




Shemini Atzeret

Rosh Hashanah

Simchat Torah

Yom Kippur


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Three bodies, one heart – Theodor Herzl Pre-Primary, Primary and High, together form one of South Africa’s top independent, co-educational schools.