Sunday, January 20, 2013

Possible school closure reflects Jews' flight from European cities | The Times of Israel

 With a quarter of the students it once educated, the Maimonides educational complex in Brussels often stands empty. (Cnaan Liphshiz via JTA)

BRUSSELS (JTA) — On the third floor of the Belgian capital’s oldest Jewish school, Jacquy Wajc pauses to listen to the eerie silence that hangs in the hallways.

Established in 1947 as a testament to Belgian Jewry’s post-Holocaust revival, the Athenee Maimonides Bruxelles school once accommodated 600 students in its spacious building in downtown Brussels, but now has only 150. Enrollment entered a free fall 10 years ago, as Jews left the area for the suburbs and were replaced by immigrants, many of them Muslims, who made Jewish parents believe the area was unsafe.

“It breaks my heart,” says Wajc (pronounced “vights”), president of the Maimonides school. “I remember when you couldn’t hear a thing this time of the day over the raucous PE class.”

As anti-Semitic attacks spiked during the second Palestinian intifada in the early 2000s, parents who themselves were proud Maimonides alumni enrolled their children elsewhere, citing security concerns. With fewer students, the school went massively into debt; Maimonides now owes various government bodies a total of $8 million.

This year, Maimonides’ staff has stepped up efforts to find an alternative locale in the suburbs. If the bid fails, the school may shut down later this year, Wajc said — a development that would complete the silent exodus of Jews from central Brussels.......

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Possible school closure reflects Jews' flight from European cities | The Times of Israel

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