The George Bizos/Cecilia Smulovitz Scholarship Fund was established at Merrifield in October 2008 with the permission of Advocate George Bizos and Philippa Smulovitz, daughter of the late Cecilia Smulovitz, following the attendance of Mr. Bizos at the 2008 College Prizegiving, specifically to award the Cecilia Smulovitz Cup for Steadfastness and Determination.

The story of the relationship between George Bizos and Cecilia Smulovitz is moving and inspiring, and forms the basis for the establishment of this Scholarship Fund at Merrifield.

Adv Bizos with his mentor, Mrs Cecilia Smulovitz

The George Bizos/Cecilia Smulovitz Story

Cecilia (Feinstein) Smulovitz was a school teacher in Johannesburg during the 2nd World War in the early 1940s. Her father, Faivel Feinstein, a Jewish refugee from Lithuania, owned a bicycle shop in Jeppe. One day whilst visiting him at work she went on an errand to the Greek Cafe next door. It was a busy afternoon and there was a long queue of people waiting to be served. Working behind the counter was a young boy of about 14 years old who Miss Feinstein recognised from an article and photograph in the Johannesburg newspaper. The story was about a boy and his father who had fled from Greece in a small fishing vessel taking 7 New Zealand (allied) soldiers to safety. Their ‘adventure’ took them to Alexandria in Egypt and, eventually, as they were unable to return to Greece, the boy and his father arrived in Johannesburg. When it was Miss Feinstein’s turn to be served, she asked the boy if he was the boy from the newspaper. He replied that he was. She then asked him what school he went to and was appalled to learn that he had ‘dropped out’ of school because of the war and his poor English. Miss Feinstein wasted no time in organising to take him to the school where she was teaching. She took George into her class and helped him with extra lessons in the afternoons. Her faith in his abilities and her extra tutoring helped him to catch up and cope with his studies. Life was not easy for George as he had to board alone in Johannesburg whilst his father worked to support him in Pretoria. He, however, determinedly and steadfastly stuck to his studies as he did not want to let down the people he cared about and those who believed in him.

Adv. George Bizos with Merrifield College Executive Head, Dr Guy Hartley and surrounded by College staff on the occasion of the 2008 College Prize Giving

George Bizos finally graduated from Wits University with a Law degree and went on to champion Human Rights throughout the Apartheid years. He was a key figure in the Rivonia trial that averted the death sentence for Nelson Mandela and fellow comrades who were being tried for treason. Several years ago Advocate George Bizos was given an honorary degree at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. He was asked to supply a guest list of people he would like to attend. Top of his list was his teacher, Cecilia (Feinstein) Smulovitz who had helped to change the course of his life.

Just as George Bizos had overcome his abject conditions to achieve at the highest level, the Cecilia Smulovitz Cup for Steadfastness and Determination was donated to Merrifield in 2000 by Philippa Smulovitz to honour and inspire young adults to strive to succeed through adverse circumstances whatever challenges there may be. Merrifield became the recipient of this award due to Cecilia Smulovitz’s two granddaughter, Kayleigh and Jennifer Rayiru, attending the school at the time and  who went on to matriculate at Merrifield College in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

On the basis of these connections between George Bizos, Cecilia Smulovitz and Merrifield, and a common commitment to belief in the power of education, quality academics and commitment in the face of adversity, the George Bizos/Cecilia Smulovitz Scholarship Fund was born.

The Scholarship Fund

Adv Bizos chats with his most famous client and friend, Mr Nelson Mandela

In the spirit of the George Bizos/Cecilia Smulovitz story, the Scholarship Fund seeks to award deserving and academically-talented students from a disadvantaged background the opportunity to study at a highly-renowned, independent school, with tuition fees and subsistence costs fully covered, towards overcoming limiting circumstances and setting a path for a future, sustainable career for life.

The Scholarship Fund will be administered by Merrifield Preparatory School and College and is geared for College students entering at grade 8 and grade 10 levels in the GET and FET phases respectively. The awarded scholarships are intended to apply for the duration of the students’ high schooling at Merrifield College. Applications will be invited through public advertisements and all finalists selected will be required to undergo an interview, entrance tests and selection process at Merrifield College.

The Scholarship Fund is appealing for donors to this worthy cause. Substantial donations have already been made. Should you be interested in making a donation and would like to enquire further about the scholarship, could you please contact the headmaster or bursar at Merrifield on 043-7486094.

Should you wish to proceed in making a donation with immediate effect, Merrifield’s updated banking details are available through this link.

Reference: (Name of donor or, if by preference, “anonymous” and “Bizos Fund”)

Your support for the George Bizos/Cecilia Smulovitz Scholarship Fund would be greatly appreciated and you would be recognized in the listing of donors. Thus far, we have the following to thank for getting the funding programme started on a firm footing with generous donations:
George Bizos
Philippa Smulovitz
Linda and Jonny Goldberg
Harriet Behrman
Many thanks for your consideration of this venture in the timeless spirit of two remarkable south Africans.