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The Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research, housed in Rachel Bloch House was established in 1980 under the terms of a gift to the University of Cape Town by the Kaplan Kushlick Foundation and is named in honour of the parents of Mendel and Robert Kaplan. An autonomous centre, with its own governing body, the centre is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

The centre seeks to stimulate and promote the whole field of Jewish studies and research at the University with a special focus on the South African Jewish community. Multi-disciplinary in scope, scholars are encouraged to participate in a range of fields including history, political science, education, sociology, comparative literature and the broad spectrum of Hebrew and Judaic studies. The centre is engaged in research and acts as a co-ordinating unit in the University.

Its resources are used to:

  • invite distinguished scholars to teach Jewish-content courses within established University departments;
  • initiate and sponsor research projects;
  • run seminars and conferences;
  • strengthen the University's library holding of books, microfilms and archival sources.

"The Kaplan Centre, as the only one of its kind in South Africa, has established a fine reputation over its twenty-five years of existence. It has made significant contributions through its teaching, research activities, seminar programmes and summer school teaching programme. The Centre has done much to enhance the development of Jewish Studies at UCT, nationally and internationally. I am confident that the Centre will continue to sustain its fine reputation."

Prof Njabulo S Ndebele
Former Vice-Chancellor on the occasion of the Centre's 25th Anniversary