Tamarac, FL — The first high school in this city is scheduled to open later this year — a private, orthodox Jewish school for girls.
The local Chabad Lubavitch community has agreed to pay $4 million for an old, three-story bank building on 8100 N. University Drive, south of Northwest 82nd Street. Classes are set to begin in the fall, pending a city permit for remodeling.
Many of the students are expected to come from Coral Springs, home to one of the largest Chabad Lubavitch communities in Broward County. Chabad Lubavitch is an ultra-orthodox, Hasidic branch of Judaism that has several synagogues in the county, including ones in Coconut Creek, Plantation and Weston, two in Fort Lauderdale and three in Hollywood.
The Hebrew Academy Community School in Margate, which is run by Chabad, has provided co-educational classes from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade for 20 years.
After eighth grade, girls have been shuttled to private schools in Miami or out of state.
The schools teach secular subjects such as chemistry, algebra and trigonometry, but there is an emphasis on religious studies.
“We called Tampa, Clearwater, Daytona, Orlando, Arkansas, these small Jewish towns that don’t have a high school, and we asked, `What do you do with your girls when they graduate?’” said Rabbi Yossie Denburg, of Coral Springs. “They were going to Toronto and Chicago, and then you have to find a place for your child to board. It’s a huge problem.”
Two years ago, the Margate school decided to expand to high school and bought a dorm in Coral Springs for the girls. Then it rented a 5,000-square-foot space from Temple Sholom in Pompano Beach for the ninth-grade class of 30 girls. A private bus takes them from their dorm to school in Pompano Beach.
This year, the school has expanded to 10th grade with 60 girls, who come from 14 states including Washington, Texas and Minnesota, as well as from South America and Vienna. “We’re maxed out,” Denburg said. “And we’re hoping the school [population] will double and triple in size.”
Denburg said the girls will continue to stay at the dorm in Coral Springs and the bus will take them to the new, 30,000-square-foot facility in Tamarac.
The school will be called Rohr Bais Chaya Preparatory Academy. Bais is Hebrew for house. The academy is named for George Rohr, a philanthropist, and Chaya Schneerson, wife of the revered leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The rabbi died in 1994, six years after his wife.
The dorm will charge $5,000 a year and the high school tuition will be $11,000 a year.
From high school, most of the girls will further their Jewish education in teacher seminaries in Israel. Others will go straight to work. “It depends on each girl individually,” said Principal Rivka Denburg, the rabbi’s wife.
Sara Horwitz, office administrator of the high school, said the grand opening will be a great relief.
“We haven’t ever had this before and this is such a large orthodox community,” she said.