Caring for Children in Need

109 George Avenue I Sandringham I

Johannesburg I 2192

Contact: Adina Menhard

Phone: 011-483-7507


Did you know…

In 2016 the Chev embarked upon a complete rebuilding, from the ground up, of Arcadia Jewish Children's Home. The design and construction costs of this modern new facility, situated on the corner of Long and George Avenues, were donated by a generous benefactor. The facility encompasses a residential section, state of the art Youth/Preventative Care Centre and a transitional home for young adults to enable them to learn the art of independent living whilst having Arcadia’s support nearby.

The Home’s fascinating history reaches back to its establishment in 1903, and the incorporation into the Chev Group in 2002.  Over the years its occupancy has swelled and dwindled in response to world crises, peaking at over 400 children in the 1940s when it welcomed a large number of refugee children from Europe fleeing Nazi persecution.  

Today the residential numbers are much smaller, with almost all the children having been placed there for their protection by the Children’s Court.  As a registered place of safety for Jewish children, Arcadia’s social workers have statutory intervention rights to remove children from situations in which they are in danger of neglect and/or abuse.

Our History

In 1903 members of the Jewish Ladies Communal League started an orphanage for 8 orphaned Jewish children in a house in Pretoria Street in Hillbrow, moving, in 1904, to a larger house on Esselen Street. Due to circumstances at that time so many applications were received to house children that these premises soon became inadequate and in 1906 the children were moved to premises in Kensington.

At that stage only children who had lost one or both parents were admitted and no applicants were considered unless they had been resident in South Africa for at least a year. Children had to be between the ages of 4 and 11 at the time of admission. Boys had to leave the home when they turned 14 and girls at the age of 15.
By 1917 there were 58 children in a home designed to accommodate 32.

In 1921 the orphanage accepted 50 war orphans from Eastern Europe and the shortage of space became acute. In 1923 the show-piece property, “Arcadia” was acquired from Sir Lionel Phillips and the first 142 children moved there. Admissions continued unabated until in 1939 there were 400 children in the care of the orphanage and two new wings had to be built, the numbers having been swelled by refugee children from Europe fleeing the Nazi persecution.
Gradually, as life returned to “normal” new policies in social services shared the advantages of keeping children at home with their parents. As social services started providing these financial means, and over time, the numbers of residents dwindled.
Today, only those children whose parents cannot care for them are accommodated here.


Contributed by Arcadia staff

Josh is an intelligent, attractive and likable young man. Looking at him now, it is difficult to comprehend the grueling and painful journey he has traveled and just how strong and determined he has had to be.

His mother overdosed on drugs when Josh was just a year old. His parents were not married and his father, also a user, had no rights under the law at that time.

So Josh came into Arcadia as a baby. Before his 3rd birthday he was adopted by a Jewish family and lived with them until he was 16. But he was increasingly unhappy in that household and was eventually removed from the family’s care by the Children’s Court and placed back into Arcadia.

Filled with anger and disappointment, young Josh – whose life thus far had been a series of one rejection following another and who had never known love or acceptance - became a rebellious, wild and defiant teenager. Drugs were his preferred choice of self-destruction. Challenging authority and displaying uncontrollable behavior Josh was eventually removed from Arcadia and put into a reformatory. After 3 months in the reformatory the family of a school friend applied to have him released into their care on the condition that he wasn’t caught drinking or drugging. He broke that agreement a year later and when he tested positive for substance abuse again was faced with the option of going back to the reformatory or going into rehab. He chose rehab.

For the next year, Josh, now 18, went from one rehab facility and halfway house to another. Incredibly, he managed to attend school as well and to pass matric with a university exemption. It was while he was in a halfway house that he met Gwen, a social worker who provided him with strong support and encouragement and who helped him believe that he could count on himself to break out of his cycle of destruction and chaos.

Shortly afterwards Josh came to the Chev and met financial social worker, Dorit. He was 19 and had decided he wanted to live on his own – no more families. The Chev helped him find a cottage in Sydenham and he started rebuilding his life. Though intellectually capable, Josh was not quite ready to tackle a degree, so he undertook an apprenticeship with a plumbing company where he worked – happily and successfully - for the next 3 years.

In 2010 Josh went to Israel for 3 months with Aish HaTorah but couldn’t find a fit and came back. He moved back into his cottage and got a job at Discovery’s call Centre. He has been clean since then and is determined never to return to those dark days.

I am thankful to the Chev, more specifically certain people at the Chev, for the financial support and for Arcadia taking me out of a somewhat messy situation. Without the Chev, Gwen, and my girlfriend, I am not sure where I would be. For now, things look good and I couldn’t have done it on my own”.


Arcadia’s Shaun Hutchinson shares his story

Shaun lived at Arcadia from 2005 until 2009. Now 27 years old and well on his way to establishing a career and promising future for himself, Shaun talked to Chevrah News about his life both in and out of Arcadia.

“I was an only child and never knew my biological father”, he says. “My mom was addicted to prescription medication. She couldn’t keep a job or take care of me so when I was almost 15 the Children’s Court took me away from her and put me into Arcadia as a place of safety”.

Understandably, Shaun was upset. He didn’t want to be separated from his mom and for a while viewed Arcadia as the “enemy”. What happened next made the situation much worse. It was Shaun’s 15th birthday and his mom visited him at Arcadia and brought him a gift. He remembers how excited she was because the Chevrah had got her into a rehabilitation program that she was starting the following week. “Things will be different when I come out of rehab”, she told him, “you will be able to come home!”

But before that could happen, she suffered a fatal overdose. When the paramedics phoned Shaun to tell him his mom had passed away, he dropped the phone in shock. She was going into rehab – it wasn’t supposed to be that way! “I believe it was an accident” says Shaun, “maybe a last fling before checking into rehab that got out of control”.

After the funeral Arcadia was appointed his legal guardian. There was no family to take him in – both his mother and Gran were being supported by the Chevrah.

His sorrow was palpable. He was self-destructive, cutting himself to inflict pain, and drinking. The downhill spiral of depression lasted, intermittently, through Std 8 and 9. “I blamed myself for not being with my mom to help her. And I blamed Arcadia for not allowing me to be".

According to Shaun, Arcadia’s Child Care professionals, Adina Menhard and Trudy Friedland literally saved his life. There are no “quick fixes” in situations like these, but with patience, persistence and expertise, they reached out to help him, providing comfort and counseling and building his broken self-esteem. “If not for them, I don’t think I would ever have survived” says Shaun. “But I did better than that – I made it through matric at King David Linksfield and got an award at the final assembly for perseverance and endurance through very difficult times. I was quite proud of that!”

When he finished high school he moved in with a foster family though the Chev still supports him. He started studying sound engineering but that didn’t work out, “too much science and math”. It was at the suggestion of his therapist and Adina that he chose to study hairdressing and he’s passionate about it!

In his second, far more practical apprenticeship year of study, Shaun gets a small salary and loves the work – especially haircutting. In another year or so he will be a junior stylist and that will give him the chance to accumulate enough hours to apply for his trade test and become a fully qualified stylist.

About his future, Shaun says he would like to visit America, for his mom. She loved Hollywood and didn’t get to live her dream. Maybe he could do that for her.

And his past? “As I have grown up I have come to realize that I wouldn’t have made it without Arcadia. It is an amazing place for children – the staff and child-care workers are caring people – there to help - even though they have to enforce rules! I visited often when I left in 2009. It’s where I feel safe, where I get encouragement and people care.”

“I still suffer from depression sometimes, but so many people have faith in me, I need to be positive. I don’t want to disappoint them, or myself.”