I am writing because of shock, anger and profound sadness upon the news that Temple Emeth will be closing its doors come August 15. For the past six years, all three of my children have received an excellent education and a love for Judaism. My youngest child was in her last year of the program, so this sudden closure does not affect me in terms of her placement for next year, but it affects me as a human being. The way the president, Paula Dillon, Rabbi Sirbu, and the board of trustees went about informing the parents and staff about the closure was nothing less then deplorable.
An extremely cold, unfeeling email went out on Saturday night, May 17, informing parents that they ” apologize for the inconvenience” but the over-20-year-established school program would be closing at the end of the summer. No explanation was given – however, in the email they patted themselves on the back and took a dig at the Orthodox and Conservative community by saying how they have “adapted our curricula to the changing demographics and needs of the community.” Rabbi Sirbu himself is even quoted in a local paper as saying that since the school does not feed into the temple anymore, they see no need to continue it. It wasn’t until the next day that we found out the temple decided to rent the classroom space to the Bergenfield board of ed – a public school, not even in their town!
Yes, we understand the temple was having financial issues, but there is a way to go about closing a school – to be a mensch about it. That is to not close a school with only a few weeks left in the school year, where you have been running registration for the next year since October. When all surrounding programs are full. Where registration for public school has been closed for two weeks. When families have to now split their 2- 3- and 4-year-old children between 2 different school, because of space issues. Where teachers who have given you 10, 15 even 20 years of dedicated service will now be struggling to find jobs. Some of these teachers are the sole breadwinners in their family. How is it right to treat them like garbage? Board of educations are also not known for their snap decision-making – this process of seeking renters had to be going on for quite some time, at least months, perhaps years. Why did the temple allow registration at all? Had we been informed in September, or even January, that this would be the last year, people would be sad, but no one would have this sense of anger and injustice we are all feeling.