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.