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Plans to Sell Herzlia Synagogue to Jewish Community (Asper Campus) with Herzlia as Tenant-Rady JCC Extra 60 + Daycare spots to be Housed At Renovated Herzlia Synagogue

by Rhonda Spivak, June 26, 2012

Reliable sources, including Dr. Earl Hershfield, President of Herzlia Adas Yeshurun, have confirmed to the Winnipeg Jewish Review that Herzlia synagogue's congregation has voted to proceed with discussions with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg regarding the transfer of ownership of the synagogue building and land to the Jewish community in exchange for rent free use for the duration of the value of the synagogue asset. Since the Federation does not own assets, according to Hershfield, "The Asper Campus would be the presumed owner of the synagogue building on Brock Street."

It is unknown at this time exactly how long that rent free term could be, although Hershfield gave the number of 30 years as a possibility.

Rhonda Prepes, one of the Winnipeg Jewish Review's sources, attended Herzlia last shabbat and wrote "At Herzlia this morning I learnt that they are renovating the Shul and housing 60-64 Rady day care spots."

The idea is that once Herzlia is to become a community asset, the community will undertake renovating the building, and the Rady JCC can move in approximately 64 daycare children as soon as the renovation of the Brock street building is completed.

In a telephone conversation with Hershfield, he said in his view, as President of the synagogue, "This was a win-win situation."

"The community will get valuable land and a building in the heart of south end Winnipeg--including the land at the back of the synagogue where there is potential for growth--and the Shul will get a newly renovated Shul and we will have rent-free usage for approximately 30 years".

The newly renovated synagogue will include a newly renovated kosher kitchen under the direction of Rabbi Ellis, who is completing the first of his three year term.

Hershfield said that in this proposed deal "No money will pass hands. The agreement is one of quid pro-quo." The community gets a valuable asset and needed spots for a day care and the Shul gets renovated premises and free rent for 25-30 years."

When asked what would happen if after 30 years the community decided there was not enough of an Orthodox congregation and decided to close the Shul (which it could do since it would own the land and building)-- Hershfield responded that, "From the Shul's point of view we intend to set up a building fund so that thirty years from now we could either buy back the Shul if we wanted or be in a position to build a new building."

Hershfield added that "The community needs a modern orthodox Shul, and one with a Rabbi."

He further noted, "We recognize that the Shul will have to put money aside year by year so that we can do what we want to do 30 years from now - to ensure there remains a modern Orthodox Shul in Winnipeg."

According to Hershfield plans to renovate the Shul “would cost about $1.5-2 million dollars." The Shul, Hershfield says, has 97 membership units--of which 55 are family memberships. Hershfield noted that it would obviously be difficult to raise $1.5 million dollars, from only 97 membership units.

Hershfield says, "Up to now, we have been dealing with Bob Freedman of the Jewish Federation, and not anyone from the Asper Campus."

However, Hershfield says he has spoken to some Asper Campus Board members, and “they seem to like the idea." He also adds that "I haven't spoken to anyone who doesn't like the idea", and his understanding is that the "Federation executive supports the idea."

On Thursday of this week Hershfield will be meeting with the Federation and there will be representatives from the Asper Campus present.

 

The Winnipeg Jewish Review had learned from numerous sources that up until a month or two ago Herzlia was considering launching a major capital campaign that would have seen a major renovation/upgrade to the building. At one point there were plans up for display in the synagogue lobby area drawn up by architect Lloyd Secter for a complete remodelling of the synagogue.

The Herzlia dinner held at the Fort Gary Hotel in May was intended to "burn the mortgage" on the building according to a press release issued by the Shul-with the idea that with the mortgage being paid off, the synagogue could move full swing into a capital campaign. The Winnipeg Jewish Review does not know at this time the amount of money that the fundraiser brought in. Hershfield says, that he himself saw the event as designed primarily to "open up the face of Herzlia Adas Yeshurun Synagogue to the community," in addition to being a fundraiser.

At the Herzlia fundraising dinner this reporter was seated at the same table with CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg Bob Freedman and Gaye Waxman Executive Director of the Rady JCC. The Winnipeg Jewish Review asked at that time whether a new location for the extra spots of the Rady JCC had been procured and was advised by Freedman that "we are working on it."

When asked whether Herzlia synagogue was a possible location for the day care, neither Freedman nor Waxman responded directly (although their facial expressions suggested to this Editor that this was in fact the case).

In response to an inquiry yesterday from the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Gayle Waxman, Executive Director of the Rady JCC stated, "The Rady JCC is very pleased to see the progress being made on securing a site where a new daycare for approximately 60 children could be developed. We continue to be committed to working closely with our community partners to meet the critical need for daycare in our community that reflects Jewish values. Please note that the number of spaces may range from 60 to 64 depending on the configuration of the space."

A $300,000 provincial grant toward the capital cost of adding day care spaces is available to the community, but in order to qualify for the grant, a significant amount of work on the project will have to be undertaken within the next year.

The government funding is contingent on the work being started within two years, as Bob Freedman has explained to the Winnipeg Jewish Review earlier in the year. The work will have to begin either in late 2012 or early 2013 in order to qualify for the government funding.

Earlier there had been talks between the Federation and Herzlia which had broken off, and at that time plans were being considered for the community to purchase a former post office building, that turned out to be sold to another buyer.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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