May 22, 2024
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Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore Announces Plans to Close

It was an email that no one in the yeshiva’s community wanted to receive.

On April 20, parents and supporters of the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore, which is based in Deal, received an email from the president of the board of directors of the yeshiva that shared the sorry news: “The Board of Directors, after much consideration, has voted to not open the school for the 2018-2019 school year in its current form.” The surprise announcement came just as the school had reached a critical transition, with the selection of a new head of school.

In the email, the yeshiva’s president, David Friedman, identified the primary causes of the unfortunate decision—significant fundraising shortfalls and continued declines in enrollment. The current enrollment in the yeshiva is 87 students, down from a high point of 102 two years earlier, and the projected enrollment for the upcoming year looked to be lower.

Friedman also stated in the email: “Many people have spent many hours trying to work out a way to keep the school open, but the projected shortfall is too large to keep the school viable.” He noted as well that demographic trends, and the inability to relocate the school, were critical factors in the school’s declining fortunes.

The yeshiva was founded in 2006 through the leadership of Rabbi Nasanayl Braun—the rav of Congregation Brothers of Israel in Long Branch. Rabbi Braun, who received semicha from Yeshiva University, continued to work on behalf of the school throughout its history, serving as vice president of the board, posek of the school and one of its primary fundraisers.

The mission of the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore had been to provide an education dedicated to excellence in both Torah and secular studies in a supportive and nurturing environment. The yeshiva sought to maximize each child’s potential and fostered an enthusiasm for lifelong learning, a commitment to their religious practices and traditions of our heritage, a fluency in its texts and language, a devotion to the State of Israel and an ability to be exemplary citizens with a love and respect for family, community, all people and for Hashem.

Rabbi Elie Tuchman, the current and founding head of school, noted the unique educational approach of the school: “The Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore has a child-centered approach to learning in which the needs of the children—and whenever possible, the needs of each individual child—come first. Our progressive, research-based educational techniques create an environment where learning is fun, dynamic and exciting. In addition to high-quality, skills-based academics in both general and Judaic studies, our highly skilled teachers place equal importance on helping students develop socially and emotionally.”

The love for the yeshiva among its different stakeholders was very strong. So the decision hit many of them very hard.

Sharon Feiler, a mother of two current YJS students (one in seventh grade, the other in third grade) said that she and her husband Yoel initially chose the school because they thought highly of the principal, the small class sizes, the personalized learning, the school’s Ivrit B’Ivrit approach, and the creative way the yeshiva worked to integrate Torah subjects and secular studies.

Sharon said: “I feel like crying, as I absorb the news that the school is closing. We were shocked. We really love the school and the relationships we have with the teachers. They really worked closely with us whenever there was a concern with one of our children; we always knew they were there to help. The news really hasn’t sunk in completely. It is hard to accept this.”

The school’s leaders know the news isn’t easy to take. And they are doing everything they can to make the transition as easy as possible for the students, their parents and the teachers, even as they come to terms with the news themselves.

“While this was a sad and difficult decision, I was touched by the outpouring of support from members of our school community as well as the greater community,” said Friedman. “I was especially moved by our wonderful teachers, whose first concerns when hearing the news was the welfare of the children. The board of directors will be working closely with the administration to ensure that the next two months continue to proceed smoothly and that the teachers and students get all the support they need for a smooth transition into next year.”

By Harry Glazer

Rabbi Tuchman stated: “I am devastated that YJS will be closing its doors at the end of this academic year. I am particularly sad for the children who will no longer have the option of a YJS education. During the 12 years we were in operation we contributed significantly to raising the level of education in the region and made an especially big difference for the children and families in our school. I am proud to have contributed to that and know that the impact of YJS will be felt well into the future.”

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