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petus for the expansion and im-
provement plans. Enrollment
has grown to 635 students and
the school anticipates having 750
to 800 students by the end of the
Administrators for the day
schools say the growth can be
attributed to several factors. For
one, the recent immigration of
Russian Jews into the Detroit
metropolitan area has increased
day schools' populations.
Another is that the children
who graduated from the day
schools in the 1960s and 1970s
are sending children of their
However, hurdles stand in the
way of accommodating the
For one, money does not come
as easily when the parents have
to shell out between $3,000 to
$6,700 annually per child for tu-
Take Darchei Torah, an
Orthodox day school that oper-
ates without funding from the
Jewish Federation of Metro-
politan Detroit. The student pop-
ulation has grown from 14 nine
years ago to 225 for the 1994-
95 school year.
While nearly all the other
Jewish day schools receive thou-
sands of Federation dollars to
support their programs, the
money for the operation of
Darchei Torah comes directly
from the parents. Tuition is ap-
proximately $4,000 annually per
The school recently decided to
start a building fund. It has out-
grown its rented rooms in the
Agency for Jewish Education
building in Southfield. To hold
the overflow crowd, the school
has started to use two portable
classrooms in the back of the
building as well as a rabbi's
Darchei Torah's latest hope of
finding a permanent home was
dashed Tuesday night when the
Birmingham School Board vot-
ed to sell a building located on
the corner of Evergreen and 13
Mile Road to William Beaumont
Hospital for $1.3 million. The
site will be used for a nursing
home pending rezoning.
Stuart Sandweiss, the school's
vice-president, was disappoint-
ed with the results of the vote
but said the school does not plan
to stop looking. "We are going to
. explore every possibility we can
get," he said following the meet-
Sol Lachman, volunteer fund-
raising chairman for Darchei
Torah, said the school will con-
tinue a $2 million fund-raising
drive to meet the costs of a new
To raise that money, the fund-
raising committee has asked
each of the school's 87 families
to make a minimum contribu-
tion of $2,000. So far, $260,0000
has been collected from the par-
ents, Mr. Lachman said.
"I go to the houses to make an
appeal," he said. "The parents
who have nothing, I mean noth-
ing, will pledge $3,000 and write
a check for $1,000. They tell me
not to cash it for three weeks."
"I go out to my car and cry,"
For schools that own build-
ings, the dilemma is different. It
is deciding whether to update
the current building or move to
a new one.
Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, princi-
pal at Yeshiva Beth Yehudah,
grappled with the same issue.
The school was in need of a
new roof, a boiler and a gym.
But instead of moving, the
Yeshiva initiated a $1 million
Schools strive to
meet spatial needs
to serve more
Now the children shoot bas-
kets in a large gymnasium, peer
out of brand new windows and
play learning games on state-
of-the-art computers. The hall-
ways in the 30-year-old building
have the scent of new carpeting
and sparkle with a new coat of
"Sure, we could have moved.
But we have been here for this
long. It suits our needs," Rabbi
Mayerfeld said. "It just needed
a little sprucing up which we
"Now we can be here for an-
other 30 years," he said.
For the schools that decide to
move, finding something in a lo-
cation central to the changing
Jewish community is a chal-
lenge. Public school districts in
the area have slowed the rate
of closing schools; others have
placed deed restrictions on the
vacant buildings, limiting their
future use to non-competitive
ventures such as hospitals or
Akiva is hoping that some-
thing in the Southfield School
District or another neighboring
district opens up.
"We would prefer to stay in
the Southfield area as most of
our students come from the
Southfield area," Mr. Eisenberg
said. "No one is pushing us to go.
to West Bloomfield."
"Nothing is set in stone,
though," he said. "I think the
only thing we know for sure
is that we have to do some-