What options do the parents of a yeshiva student have if their child cannot handle the demanding routine of the yeshiva curriculum?
Too few, say most parents in the know. And with barely any alternatives, the fallout among yeshiva students is rising at an alarming rate.
So an announcement last week by Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky of Lubavitch World Headquarters, regarding the opening of a special yeshiva, came as a welcome surprise. Rabbi Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the educational division of the world Lubavitch organization, broke the news to a house full of principals and teachers attending a conference on education in Newark, New Jersey.
“This school will be small enough to allow for individual attention and for students to develop a personalized syllabus,” said Rabbi Krinsky. Students will benefit from vocational training, computer programming, graphics and web design, complementing a full Torah-study curriculum. “The school’s objective,” he noted, “will be to work with students for two or three years so that they can be mainstreamed back into the traditional yeshiva for their continuing or higher education.”
Although plans were in the making for some time, Rabbi Krinsky waited with the announcement until the official transfer of a two-acre property in North Yonkers, Westchester, to Lubavitch, was finalized.
For ten dollars and a promise, the Greystone Jewish Community Center—appraised at $4 million, was handed over to Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch. Once a hub of Jewish activity, the congregation has dwindled to barely more than the prescribed quorum of worshipers on Shabbos.
Members of Greystone’s board recall North Yonkers’ Jewish community in its heyday with nostalgia and a deep attachment. Hoping to maintain the minyan, the board turned to Lubavitch with a proposal: Given the chance, how would Lubavitch make use of this property?
“It was a G-dsend to us in our search for a suitable site for this yeshiva that we have been wanting to open,” says Rabbi Krinsky, adding that “not only do we intend to keep the Shabbos services going, but there’ll be services three times daily services, and with the vitality that 70-80 Jewish boys will naturally generate, things should begin to look much livelier here.”
Ideally situated just a few miles north of New York City, this urban but residential area nestled along the banks of the Hudson River, with the charms of a historic town and an impressive real-estate market, is ripe for gentrification.
New construction of spacious, comfortable dormitory facilities for up to 80 students, and major renovations on an old mansion as well as on the main building which includes a large sanctuary, a fully equipped commercial kitchen and classrooms, are expected to be completed by September 2004.
“The setting is highly conducive to study and recreation,” said Rabbi Krinsky. “I hope this will serve as a prototype for other yeshivas and finally answer a need that begs attention.”