Sacramento-area school fills void for growing Chabad community J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on September 21, 2022

NTheres a Jewish day school near Sacramento that, unlike some others in Northern California, is having a growth spurt. Thats because it serves a specific population in the area that is also growing: the sons and daughters of Chabad emissaries.

The student body also includes children of baalei teshuvah, or newly observant Jews, and of families growing stronger in their Judaism, said Rabbi Yossi Korik of Chabad of Placer County. But the needs of Chabad families have been the driving force in the schools population, reflecting the expansion of Chabad in the region.

Started as a homeschool nine years ago, the Sacramento Jewish Academy now enrolls nearly 100 children, pre-K through eighth grade.

Rabbi Mendy Cohen, the schools dean who has directed Chabad of Sacramento since 1994, said a full curriculum of Jewish texts is complemented by secular learning, including a STEM program.

There is a strong emphasis on that, he says, noting a recent New York Times story that criticized Hasidic schools in Brooklyn for neglecting such studies. Thats how you get kids who will change the world.

Just last month, the school closed on a $2.5 million, 9,000-square-foot former church compound in Granite Bay, about a half-hour from Sacramento, for its newly expanded facility.

It wasnt the first place they selected. But, says Korik, who is also the schools director, hes glad it worked out this way.

We began to notice the [student population] growth and that wed have to grow, and the local Chabad house property, on 1.3 acres, was going to be where we were going to build, said Korik. A beautiful plan was developed and was all approved and ready to go, but then Covid happened and everything was delayed.

Also, the goalposts kept moving as building material prices continued to rise, he said.

Then in late April, we came across this property, and it was really a miracle, Korik said. It was a former church, which had folded during Covid. They were having problems finding the perfect buyer/user, and we went to look at it, and it really was the building we had designed. Its literally move-in ready.

We closed Aug. 17 and started classes Aug. 29, he said. It was crazy. Its tremendous; miraculous.

The academy draws students from as far away as Vacaville, South Lake Tahoe, Stockton and Folsom. There are 13 staff members, and state accreditation is in the works, Korik said.

Cohen says the school fills a need in Jewish education that did not exist previously for these Hasidic children, who would leave home at an early age to attend Chabad schools in far-away cities with larger Lubavitch populations.

For Rabbi Cohens wife, Dinie, the school has been a blessing. Before the small home operation began in their Chabad house, her two older boys attended a Chabad school in Los Angeles. It wasnt easy to let them leave, certainly not at first.

Ill never forget, when it came time to send away our older sons, there was my child on this airplane, and it just became this speck, this dot, she says in the promotional video at Now we dont have to do that anymore.

A school to serve their children anchors the community, said Korik.

Everything else is built on the foundation of Jewish education, he said. This is laying the cornerstone for the expansion of Jewish life in this region, where there are 14 Chabad centers in the Sacramento region alone.

Chabad of Solano County Rabbi Chaim Zaklos, whose eight children make the hourlong trip every day to attend the school, agreed.

Statistically, he said, its been proven that Jews who had Jewish education as children are more likely to hang on to their Jewishness into the next generation.

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Sacramento-area school fills void for growing Chabad community J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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