Rambam Yeshiva of New Jersey, which had been scheduled to open in September in Old Bridge, has been put on hold for a year while organizers survey community needs and take steps to create a broader coalition of supporters.
At a meeting several weeks ago initiated by local Orthodox rabbis, organizers and community leaders agreed to work together over the coming year, said John Rosen, a Rambam founder.
In April, parents announced plans to establish the new high school, saying they had begun raising money to fill the vacuum created by the announced closing of the Moshe Aaron Yeshiva High School in South River. Without MAYHS, the only other Orthodox day schools in the region are located in Elizabeth and Deal.
“We frankly all made compromises to ensure we have a high school that would be guaranteed long-term success, which is clearly what everybody wants,” Rosen told NJJN. “We agreed to hold off. Some groups are moving more quickly, but we all realize we’re doing this together. It is important to note that this is not just a school for our community, but a community school.”
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, which serves grades kindergarten-eight, has also formed a committee to explore the possibility of adding a high school division.
In a letter sent in the spring to the RPRY community and obtained by NJJN, the school announced that “as a provider of high-quality Jewish and general education to the Middlesex County Jewish community for over 65 years, RPRY would seem to be a natural fit to provide the local yeshiva high school experience that is currently missing from our landscape.”
The exploratory committee will give “thoughtful preparation and careful research into the community’s needs, best practices in secondary education, and available financial resources,” according to the letter.
The committee will be made up of current members of the RPRY boards of education and directors, executive board, and the community and RPRY parents.
An e-mail sent by Rambam to its constituents said its steering committee’s first priority over the coming months will be to “carefully study community demographics and conduct a survey among potential families to ascertain what will attract students to the new school and secure additional funding.”
The committee is preparing a detailed timetable for the next 15 months and plans to contact local Jewish federations, rabbis, and community members as well as Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union, and Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education for assistance and planning.
The Rambam delay came less than two months after the school announced it had obtained an Old Bridge site and a $75,000 grant from the Teichman family of Brooklyn to underwrite $2,500 of each Rambam student’s $15,975 tuition on a first-come basis. It also held a parlor meeting introducing its new head of school, Rabbi Moshe Bak.
Bak had left Shalom Torah Academy in Morganville, which was slated to merge with the institution’s branch in East Windsor. The merger was recently rescinded (see related article). Bak has been offered his old job, according to Shalom Torah director Rabbi Avrohom Gutman; attempts to reach Bak were unsuccessful.
MAYHS announced April 12 that it could not afford to open in the fall, a victim of dwindling enrollment and mounting debt.