Jewish schools have closed in other cities, too

Jaclyn Kellner, Community Editor

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The Los Angeles Jewish community was shocked to hear that Shalhevet needs to close its middle, elementary and preschool, but similar situations have been happening to other Jewish schools in the past two years.

Some schools, like Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDS), reacted in a similar manner to Shalhevet, closing down parts of the school to save the rest. JCDS in closed its 20-year-old middle school last year to preserve its 32-year-old elementary and preschool.

Like Shalhevet, JCDS suffered declining enrollment and a higher demand for financial aid, and together they couldn’t be balanced by donations.

“It’s very sad,” Naomi Stein, Admissions Director at JCDS. “It impacts the community on many levels.

“It impacted the school community but also the Rhode Island Jewish community,” she continued. “Everybody felt sad and it was so hard. We got calls from some parents and from people who didn’t have students at our school yelling at us for closing [the middle school].”

Out of the 35 middle school students at JCDS, only seven continued at a Jewish school, Ms. Stein said. The elementary school didn’t have the jobs to hire their middle school teachers.

Other schools, like Cleveland Hebrew School, were not as lucky and needed to close down completely. Cleveland Hebrew School, which opened in 1890, closed last year because of a decrease in enrollment, according to http://tinyurl.com/lvpo69.

With the economic recession, fewer families are able to afford Jewish private schools. Those families either apply for financial aid or switch their children to public schools. Because the recession affects the schools’ major donors as well, they are having more trouble accommodating for both an increase in financial aid and a decrease in enrollment.

“In the last two years enrollment has gone down in many of our schools as the economy has impacted many families both in terms of tuition and donations,” said Miriam Prum Hess, Director of Day School Operational Services for the Bureau of Jewish Education.

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