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March 28, 2013 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-03-28

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Craig Fahle

Rabbi Aaron Bergman reads to children of the Adat Shalom Early Childhood

Sad Decision

Adat Shalom to close its preschool.

Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor


fter nearly 50 years, Adat
Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills will no
longer have a preschool program after
this June.
"I regret to inform you that after
much heartfelt thought and very care-
ful consideration, the Adat Shalom
Board of Trustees has voted to close
our Early Childhood Center at the
end of this school year:' synagogue
president David M. Sherbin wrote to
congregants in a March 18 letter.
"Throughout its history, we have
provided an outstanding educational
experience to thousands of children:'
Sherbin wrote. "We believe our ECC
has offered the finest preschool pro-
gram available in our community.
Many of our 'graduates' have gone
on to assume leadership roles in the
Jewish community
"We have long believed that a pre-
school educational program within
a synagogue setting affords the best
opportunity for young children to forge
relationships with the clergy and with
the congregation, and the ECC has
served an important element in attract-
ing and retaining young families as
members of Adat Shalom. Moreover,
educating our youth is and should
remain a core part of our mission:'
Sherbin sites many factors for the
decision, including changing demo-
graphics in the Jewish community
with young people moving out of the
area or changing their synagogue
affiliation, an overall declining local
Jewish population and more choices
because public schools have opened
preschools with significantly lower
tuition rates.
Also, several years ago,
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield closed its preschool and
merged into Hillel Day School's newly
opened ECC in Farmington Hills.
"The harsh reality of our declin-
ing enrollment and the significant
annual losses generated by our ECC
can no longer be sustained:' Sherbin

wrote. "Since 2008, our enrollment
has declined from 130 children to 31
children. Our annual operating loss
for the most recently completed school
year exceeded $150,000, and we will
lose a similar amount again this year.
Our aggregate losses over the last five
years were approximately $600,000.
"During this period, we have taken
every prudent action we could think of
to both reduce our operating expenses
and to increase our student revenue ...
Our synagogue can no longer afford
this level of annual losses ..."
Stacey Columbus of Keego Harbor
is a graduate of the Adat Shalom ECC.
She has two children in the school
now, Spencer, 5, and Mallory, 31/2.
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "I'm
sad my daughter won't be able to have
another year there. I still have great
memories and friends I met there:'
Plans are for the synagogue to step
up family programming in the future.
"We will grow and expand pro-
grams:' said Melissa Ser, director of
congregational learning. "The pre-
schoolers will have a class on Sunday
mornings, and more is coming —
after Passover:'
Adat Shalom rabbis will continue to
visit synagogue students at the Jewish
Community Center preschool and plan
to add visits to the Hillel ECC as well.
"This is a very strong program, with
excellent staff' said Julie Eisman, head
of Adat Shalom's ECC for five years.
"The children have been the constant
bright light each day, and we've been
so lucky to have supportive and caring
In his letter, Sherbin wrote, "Our
directors over the years [Miriam
Leitman, Gerry Berkal, Janet Pont,
Dottie Levitsky, Jordana Weiss and
Eisman], have set uniquely high stan-
dards, focusing on the development of
the individual child within a loving,
creative and nurturing environment
... We thank all of our directors and
staff ... [and] we thank the genera-
tions of parents who have entrusted
their children's early education to
Adat Shalom.


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