PHOTO: Maimonides Jewish Day School and Chabad of Northeast Portland are purchasing this former preschool at 4635 NE 9th Ave. to house the day school, a preschool and all of Chabad NE's programs.
BY DEBORAH MOON
Portland’s east side will finally have a Jewish day school and a new preschool when Maimonides Jewish Day School opens in its new home Sept. 6.
Maimonides has partnered with Chabad of Northeast Portland to purchase an 8,700-square-foot former preschool at 4635 NE 9th Ave. The building has ample space for the preschool-eighth grade school and for the NE Chabad Jewish Center and its programs. The Gan Preschool, which formerly shared the Campus of Jewish Life with Maimonides at 6612 SW Capitol Hwy., also gains new space to grow and continue serving families in SW Portland from that location.
“It has been incredibly challenging to find an appropriate property for MJDS,” wrote Director Devora Wilhelm in a letter to parents. “We are excited to share the news that we have found a property already zoned for a preschool, removing the entire permit application process, … (and which) will more than double our current capacity.”
Rabbi Moshe Wilhelm, who founded Chabad of Oregon 38 years ago with his wife, Devora, says this space turns dreams into reality. “This is an opportunity to expand the day school and for more Jewish kids to have a quality Jewish education. It will be a great place for Northeast Portland Chabad to grow and accommodate all the needs here.”
MJDS board member and parent Rabbi Shmulik Greenberg of Clark County Chabad also calls it a dream come true: “There will be a day school and a preschool on the east side. … This is a big opportunity for more families on the east side and, like me, in Southwest Washington.”
One of those parents, Annie Isaac, is looking forward to taking her two oldest daughters to the new school. Her youngest daughter will stay at The Gan-Garrett Preschool run by Chabad of Clark County, since it is very close to their home, and she only attends half days.
“Portland has three day schools, and they have all been in Southwest Portland,” Isaac says. “Having a school in Northeast Portland opens Jewish education to more families. It’s a really exciting thing for Portland.”
In addition to mortgages, MJDS and NE Chabad each have launched a capital campaign to fund the $1,922,500 purchase price as well as needed renovations and furnishings. The two organizations will each pay approximately half (MJDS will cover slightly more) of the projected total cost of $2,341,050. Closing is set for Aug. 8.
The ADA-accessible, two-story building has classroom space, activity areas, a large lobby, kitchen, office space and a community/shul space. With double the space of the old school, there is more space for art and music. Located in a quiet neighborhood, the site features separate outdoor play spaces for preschoolers and older students.
NE Chabad Executive Director Rabbi Chaim Wilhelm says the 5,000 square feet of outdoor space will be available for camp and afterschool programs, as well. A large lobby will double as an informal gathering place for families arriving for programs. Given the prominence of food in Jewish holidays and traditions, he expects the soon-to-be-kosher meat/parve kitchen will serve as an important hub.
His wife, NE Chabad Educational Director Mushka Wilhelm, is equally excited about the space. The kitchen will be a wonderful space for the teens and other volunteers to prepare food for seniors and the homebound served by Chabad’s Chesed (kindness) Connection. Teens will also be able to enjoy expanded teen programming in a Teen Lounge. Hebrew school and summer camp will have a permanent home. Women will have space for weekly Mommy & Me gatherings and for ladies’ classes.
“As a mom myself, I want to provide a spiritual network and empower ladies of today,” says Mushka Wilhelm. “This is space to gather and connect and feel a sense of ownership.”
“Chabad of Northeast in partnership with the day school will fill this space with love, laughter and joy,” she says. “There is so much opportunity here.”
NE Chabad and Maimonides have hosted several open houses at the new space. A July 21 open house drew many people who have participated in events hosted by NE Chabad during its 10 years in the area.
Walking to their cars after the tour, Helen Tevlin and Lynn Tylor called the space “light” and “spacious.”
“This is a wonderful space with so many options,” said Masha Sanders at the open house. Her grandson, Max, has participated in NE Chabad’s Hebrew School and other programs for nine years. She adds that Chabad is “very welcoming.”
Kirk Erickson enjoys how NE Chabad has supported his wife and daughter’s investment in their Jewish heritage. He said the Hebrew school is good for his daughter, but Chabad also offers opportunities for him to support and understand that heritage. When leaving the building, he said, “I know it will be a good space to learn.”
Donate to the MJDS building campaign or the Chabad of Northeast building campaign at charidy.com/Building4JewishOregon.
For more information on the groups, visit jewishnortheast.com and portlandjewishschool.com.