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March 25, 1994 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-03-25

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Temple Israel Plans
First Reform Mikvah

Schools Seek Means
To Balance Budget



'th three major gifts,
Temple Israel has ini-
tiated a fund-raising
campaign to build a
mikvah (ritual bath), a state-of-
the-art media center and six ad-
ditional classrooms at its West
Bloomfield complex.
The mikvah may be the first
in the country under Reform
Jewish auspices, according to of-
ficials of the Central Conference
of American Rabbis and the
Union of American Hebrew Con-
In an article in the Temple
Israel Messenger, Rabbis M.
Robert Syme, Harold Loss and
Paul Yedwab told the 2,675
temple members that the
mikvah would be more conve-
nient for those converting to Ju-
The rabbis estimate the tern-
ple has up to 50 conversions each
year. One morning last week,
eight Temple Israel converts
used the mikvah at Congrega-
tion Beth Achim to complete
their conversion process.
"Beth Achim has been won-
derfully gracious to us over the
years," said Rabbi Yedwab. "But
with our own mikvah, we
wouldn't have to do all the con-
versions on the same day. We
have our own bet din (rabbinical
court) and with our own mikvah
could do the conversions when-
ever we want."
It also would be convenient,
the rabbis said, for members and
the public who want to use the
mikvah for traditional Jewish
rituals, such as after a woman's
monthly cycle or before a wed-
Use of the mikvah is not re-
quired by the Reform move-
ment, but the rabbis estimate
that the ritual has been part of
the temple's conversion process
for two decades. "It's built into
our conversion course," said Rab-
bi Yedwab. "Converts have the
option (whether to use the mik-
vah as part of their conversion),
but in my eight years here no
one has declined.
"Forty years ago, there prob-
ably weren't any (converts using
the mikvah). Now, I'd guess,
most Reform rabbis take con-
verts to the mikvah. We may be
the first to have our own mik-
vah, but there will be more,"
Rabbi Yedwab said.
The mikvah is just one part of
an addition planned for the tem-
ple. Three families have pledged
a total of $500,000 — approxi-

mately half the total needed —
for six new classrooms, the mik-
vah, and a high-tech media cen-
ter. The three initial donors are
Nancy and Dr. Alberto Hodari,
the Weinberg family in memo-
ry of Max and Edith Weinberg,
and Michelle and Max Dubrin-
The temple leadership hopes
to complete both the fund rais-

The temple wants
to complete
construction by fall.

ing and construction next fall.
President Linda Brodsky said,
"We are starting just as soon as
we can break ground." Architect
Stuart Fine said the addition
will adjoin the northeast corner
of the temple's school wing.
Temple member David Tis-
dale, part of the building com-
mittee, expects the media center
to be "an incredible resource for
teachers and, obviously, for kids
on anything Jewish." It will in-
clude facilities for satellite con-
ferencing, computer data bases

and CD ROM.
Temple Israel's existing 28
classrooms are wired for televi-
sion. The six additional class-
rooms would also be wired and
include two specifically set up for
adult Jewish education.
Even with the additional
classroom space, the temple will
continue to rent space at Green
Elementary for Sunday school,
Mr. Tisdale said. Weekday class-
es for grades 7-12 are held at the
Rabbi Yedwab said, "I'm
more concerned about pro-
grams than space. But we won't
have kids learning in the hall-
ways anymore, and parents can
bring toddlers for story hour
when they're driving the older
kids' carpool."
The proposed media center,
he said, will allow students and
teachers "to travel anywhere in
the Jewish world from this room.
Imagine being a teacher or a
student and doing a Jewish unit
on ecology. You can call up all
the resources. There's a compa-
ny that even has the entire Son-
cino Talmud on CD ROM. It's all
very exciting." 0

jr am& which means "collection" (of water), is a pool or bath,
1 VI immersion in which renders a person ritually clean after
they have become ritually unclean through contact with the dead
(Numbers 19) or any other unclean object, or through an unclean
flux from the body (Leviticus 15).
Although the laws of ritual impurity no longer apply after the
destruction of the Temple, the ancient rabbis insisted on metic-
ulous immersion following menstruation and for the convert.
They emphasized the purpose is not physical, but spiritual, clean-
A mikvah contains at least 40 se'ah (approximately 60-250
gallons) of clean rainwater or natural spring water that flows
freely. Other types of approved water may be added.


illel Day School alumni
remember when the
school's greatest problem
was attracting students.
In 1994, with nearly 140
pupils above building capacity
learning in portable modules,
board members are struggling

amount, will be implemented.
Turning for guidance to the
Princeton Educational Testing
Service which determines tu-
ition and scholarship needs for
many universities and private
schools, Hillel has devised a
three-tier system.

Hillel Day School.

with a new problem: how to
maintain a balanced budget
while remaining affordable to
Hillel's tuition rates, like
those of other area day schools
including Yeshiva Beth Yehu-
dah, Akiva Hebrew Day School
and Darchei Torah, continue to
rise each year. In addition,
scholarship dollars are on the
increase and all schools are cop-
ing with expansion issues.
The question on many par-
ents' and administrators' minds
is, "How viable is the tradition
of not denying any child a Jew-
ish education?"
"I don't think the credo can
exist any longer," said Marty
Gene, Hillel president. "For
years we were identified as a
community school. But as the
years have gone on, the defini-
tion of community has become
a misnomer. The community
doesn't support this school, the
parents do."
Mr. Gene was quick to add
the community should not just
be considered as Jewish Feder-
ation of Metropolitan Detroit.
"The Conservative commu-
nity as a whole needs to step to
the plate and support the
schools," Mr. Gene said.
Last year, Hillel received
$299,000 in Federation alloca-
tions, approximately $470 per

pupil. For 1994-95, tuition takes
a substantial jump (up to 23
percent for those paying full tu-
ition plus new required assess-
ments). Also, a give-or-get
program, requiring families pay
an additional $300 or work to-
ward credits equaling that

At the top of the scale, those
grossing more than $120,000 a
year will pay $6,700 per stu-
dent. Middle-income, deter-
mined by Princeton as those
families earning between

$80,000 and $120,000 a year,
pay $6,100 per student. Fami-
lies earning less than $80,000
may apply for greater assis-
tance but must pay a minimum
of $1,000.
In addition, all families are
required to either pay an addi-
tional $300 or earn credits
equalling the same amount
through the selling of ad jour-
nals, raffle and dinner tickets.
Currently, 25 percent of Hillel
families are involved in fund-
raising activities.
"The way our tuition was
structured before, everyone
was getting a subsidy (by the
school not charging the actual
dollar amount needed to edu-
cate each child). Now we're try-
ing to make sure we don't
squeeze the middle out," Mr.
Gene said.
Many parents don't view the
situation as equitable.
Two open meetings were
held last week to explain the
give-or-get program — give
$300 or help raise it — in addi-
tion to the tiered-tuition system.
Parents expressed concern
that tuition increases in the last
eight years ranged from 4 to 10
percent. Full-tuition payers
($6,700 per student) will see a
jump of 23 percent including the
give-or-get program.
Mr. Gene said the school has
made efforts to cut costs — cap-
TUITION page 16

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