Gan Miriam center closes down with little notice

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Less than a week.

That’s all parents from Gan Miriam Early Learning Center had to make other arrangements for the kids after learning the organization lost its space at the Riverdale Jewish Center and was closing its doors for good.

Such news would be bad enough, but the timing of the announcement — at the end of the school year — made the situation even worse.

“According to what we were told (June 20) via email, the RJC decided to close the day care since they received a better financial offer,” said Lilach Bar, whose daughter recently completed Gan Miriam’s program for 2-year-olds. “From my understanding, the day care was given (a) 10-day notice to vacate the place.”

Hezzy Jesin, the Jewish center’s executive director, wouldn’t talk about why Gan Miriam closed, or why it happened on short notice.

In a statement emailed to The Riverdale Press, Jesin focused more on history, talking about its founding at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale some 30 years ago, and how it has been a “great community resource and home for many of our children.”

“A decade ago, when the HIR went through renovations and could no longer house the Gan, the Riverdale Jewish Center agreed to become home to the Gan as a service to the community,” Jesin said. “We are proud of the many years we were able to offer the Gan affordable space to house their program.”

However, parents who had children at Gan Miriam — which declined to comment — weren’t able to reflect back on better days. Instead, they coped with trying to find out where their children would spend the summer.

“Had I known a month ago, I could have gone and looked at alternatives,” said Yael Buckstein, whose son was a student at Gan Miriam. “But now, all the schools are out already, which doesn’t leave time to go and see other places for your child.”

Bar and other parents already were reaching out to different nursery schools. But as of last week, they have had little luck. Many preschools already are filled with extensive waiting lists.

Gan Miriam did hold a parent meeting two weeks ago, Bar said, where they were told someone from the Jewish Center would “make some phone calls on their behalf” to try and find new placement.

Bar, however, isn’t confident that would happen, considering how the closing itself was handled. Gan Miriam is cleaning out its space at the Jewish Center, and construction is set for the arrival of the new tenant, Bar said she was told.

“It’s disappointing to know that an institution such as a synagogue that people trust and believe in will act like this,” Bar said.

In addition to parents, Gan Miriam’s unexpected closing at 3700 Independence Ave., also impacts eight teachers who were scheduled to run the summer program for 15 families. The summer session would have begun July 5, Bar said.

Despite the struggles to find a new nursery school at such a late date, Bar and Buckstein remained optimistic. While they have no ill will toward the day care or Jewish Center, they still wish everyone had received far more notice.

“The kids were always very happy there,” Buckstein said. “It was a very organized and reliable place.

“You know the same teachers for many years. So, you knew who your kids were going to have.”

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