Save Herzlia Dafna
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The number of pupils enrolled at Herzlia Dafna has been declining steadily for several years. The UHS Committee is therefore concerned about the future viability of Dafna.
On Friday 15 April 2016, the UHSC invited all Dafna parents via email to attend a meeting to be held on Monday, 18 April 2016, at 19h30 in the Dafna small hall. The purpose of the meeting was to share some of the details around the Committee’s concerns and to consult with Dafna parents and staff on this issue.
The UHS Committee emphasised that no final decision has been made yet and that they are engaging in a consultative process with their stakeholders over the next six weeks. The results of their consultations will be used to inform the decision that has to be made by the School Committee. The UHC Committee are committed to making this decision by the end of May 2016.
At the meeting, parents voiced their many concerns. These include, but not limited to:
- Dafna serves the Milnerton and surrounding areas; there is no closely located alternative for a modern Orthodox Jewish education
- There are unattended consequences for the Jewish community in the Milnerton and surrounding areas, such as the future disintegration of the Jewish community located in that area
- The Herzlia population as a whole will decrease due to young Dafna children being sent to non-Jewish schools located near their homes
- In order for the young Dafna children to continue with a Jewish education at another Herzlia school, they will need to endure leaving home before 7am and a long trip in the car to and from the school, resulting in a very long day and a decline in the quality of their education
- Most Dafna parents both work, which means by moving their children to another Herzlia School located far from their homes, their children will have to attend after care at an additional cost (which some parents can't afford)
Some of the parents and I, who were able to attend this meeting (albeit on short notice), voiced their commitment. Whether it be financial, skills or personal time in order to ensure that Dafna achieves more enrolments and future growth. It is for this reason that I would like the UHS Committee to reciprocate with a commitment of their own. This is not a problem that can be solved in a few months. At least 1 full school year is needed in order to put together a parent committee, create a strategy and implement a plan of action. I want the Committee to commit to giving us enough time to help solve the issue. I want the Committee to commit to giving the parents the information, budget and tools to help ensure success. I have no doubt that by working together we can succeed. The main objective of this petition is to garner this commitment from the UHS Committee.
There were a number of ideas and notions provided to the committee by the parents at the meeting on Monday evening. Yes, some of these solutions might be a bit naive, raw or uninformed, however with a bit of time and effort we can fine tune these ideas and make them work for everyone. More time and consultation will also garner more and better ideas. Again, the objective of this petition is to get the UHS Committee to agree to give us the time needed to do so.
A further reason for this petition is to help make all past and present Herzlia alumni and students aware of the situation at Dafna, calling upon them to provide support and commitment too. We can quickly and easily mobilise huge support from the Herzlia community in the Western Cape and from those stretched across the globe. I need your help to spread the message and save Herzlia Dafna.
In closing, it is significant to mention that this is happening around the time of Pesach. A time when the Israelites were faced with great adversity. Just as the “numbers” are against the future existence of Dafna school, the “numbers” were completely against the future of the Jewish nation. Just as Dafna is left with little time to solve its problem, the Jews had to leave Egypt in a hurry. During the course of Pesach, we commemorate many miracles such as the plague, the salvation of the Jewish firstborns, the splitting of the Red Sea. If there is a time to believe again in miracles, now is that time.
At the conclusion of the Pesach sedar, we recite a prayer that ends in “Next year in Jerusalem!”. Please sign this petition so that at the conclusion of the UHS Committee’s decision process, we will hear them say...
“Next year at Dafna!”
A Dafna Parent
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