The Academy is a vibrant, modern-orthodox program for Jewish thought, scholarship and education and that inspires our community with a lifelong love of Jewish learning.

The South African Jewish community has greatly expanded its institutions and programmes in the last decade. Indeed, an unprecedented growth in both religious and secular institutions has led the South African Jewish community to be a powerful example for other leading diaspora communities. However, there is a noticeable gap in the area of serious textual study being offered to all members of the greater community (especially those with little training in Torah texts). Additionally a culture of discussion and debate over critical modern issues in the Jewish world has not yet been achieved within the Orthodox world in South Africa.

In the last nine years the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS), established as Jews’ College in 1855, has grown from a small institution to a world-class learning centre brimming with students. Led by its President, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, its imaginative courses, high intellectual standards, innovative tours and outreach to synagogues have earned the respect of communal leaders and created a buzz across Anglo-Jewry. Using the material and guidance of LSJS, the Academy of Jewish Thought and Learning (The Academy), is forming a new program for Jewish thought, learning and scholarship in order to create the same vibrant success in these areas within the South African Jewish context.

Our mission

Our aim is to create a vibrant, modern-orthodox program for Jewish scholarship, education and thought that inspires our community with a lifelong love of Jewish learning.

Our principal commitments

  1. To educate adults by increasing their Jewish knowledge, improving their textual skills and building their confidence as independent learners.
  2. To develop outstanding educators who teach with love, respect, openness, intellectual honesty and creativity.
  3. To study with Yirat Shamayim, a profound reverence for Hashem, in order to appreciate Jewish knowledge within its G-dly context.
  4. To promote the full participation of women in Jewish learning.
  5. To foster a culture of love for knowledge, higher learning and open discussion within the field of Jewish learning.
  6. To promote a culture of respect and tolerance within the field of Jewish learning.
  7. To encourage our students to help create this culture through passing on their own knowledge and experiences at home and within their own communities.
  8. To exchange ideas at the highest level through academic research and the advanced study of traditional Jewish texts.
  9. To deepen our community’s understanding and love for Israel.
  10. To examine critical issues facing modern society with intellectual honesty, integrity and courage; in order to understand and develop Torah responses.
  11. To work with the wider community in achieving these goals.

Leadership

The Academy has a board of governors as follows:

  • Chairman, Shaun Matisonn
  • Barry Swartzberg
  • Sarah Sassoon
  • Avrom Krengel
  • Gary Herbert
  • Rabbi Jonathan Glass
  • Rabbi Ramon Widmonte (Dean)
  • Sammy Rubin (UK)

Relationship with Shuls in SA

LSJS UK has managed to create a vibrant partnership with Shuls around the UK by acting as an outsourced education agent. LSJS provides teachers to run specific series at shuls around the UK. These educational series vary in duration between several weeks to year courses. LSJS is not a shul and does not operate one.

These are the same guidelines to be followed in South Africa by The Academy and we have already formed good relationships with the shuls mentioned below (under Affiliations).

Affiliations

The Academy is affiliated to the following organisations and shuls:

Shuls
  • Waverley Shul – Rabbi Rose
  • Sandton Shul – Rabbi Shaw
  • Greenside Shul – Rabbi Rabinowitz
  • Mizrachi Shul – Rabbi Perez
  • Pine Street Shul – Rabbi Gerson
  • Victory Park Shul – Rabbi Uzvolk
  • Sydenham Shul – Rabbi Goldman
Organisations
United Mizrachi Organisation, South Africa

The Academy utilises the material produced by LSJS (the London School of Jewish Studies) and receives input and training from its senior staff.

Venues

The Academy runs at various venues throughout Johannesburg, but mainly close to the central areas of Illovo and Melrose Arch. Certain shuls have already booked courses by the Academy and thus the courses will be accessible at these venues as well. Please contact us for details of a venue near you.

In association with Mizrachi South Africa and the London School of Jewish Studies (President: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Dean: Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, Honorary President: Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks)