New Zealand’s Moriah to close

August 27, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
Read on for article

Moriah School in Wellington will close its doors at the end of the year…but its Kindergarten will remain open.

Ella McLaughlin-Smith and Yannai Goldberg show Prime Minister John Key the buttons

Citing lack of resources as the main reason for the school’s closure, president of the Wellington Jewish, president of the Wellington Jewish Community Centre Claire Massey told parents the news on Friday.

A spokesperson for the school told J-Wire: “It wasn’t a complete surprise”.

There are currently sixteen pupils at the school between the ages of 5 an 13.

The Moriah School was founded in 1985 and at its peak had almost 60 students. The school made J-Wire’s pages when they became involved in a project to amass 1.5 million buttons…each one representing a child murdered during the Holocaust.

That project has been handed over to the Wellington Holocaust Research and Education Centre.

Stephen Goodman, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, told J-Wire: “The closure of Moriah College is viewed with regret by both the New Zealand Jewish Community and the rest of the country.  While relatively small Moriah has added to the spread and understanding of Jewish values in Wellington and across the rest of New Zealand. Activities such as their button project, raising Holocaust awareness, could only be carried by a Jewish school.  In addition their involvement with many community and cultural events will be sorely missed.   Jewish education offers a number of unique insights to the world and any loss diminishes us all.”


School video

The following is the letter sent to parents…

As you are all aware, over the last year it has become increasingly difficult to keep the doors of Moriah College open. There are a number of related issues, but at the heart of all of these is simply the fact that in a small community like ours there are always going to be too few people to support every aspect of the community’s activities.

Providing a Jewish education to the children of the community is something that we all hold dear to our hearts. However it is now time to recognise that we simply do not have the resources to operate a full Jewish day school. After much work in the background examining all the options, and with the support of many of you, including those who came to the various community meetings, the Board has now decided that we have no option but to close Moriah School . This will not be a surprise to any of you who have attended the meetings and who been following the discussions we have had around the Board table (through the minutes that are available to all members of the community) and summarised in my Centre News Column.
The Board has been obliged to arrive at a decision because, apart from complying with regulations set down by the Ministry of Education and providing certainty for parents of children at the School, we also employ staff at Moriah School who need us to make a decision.
At our meeting last week therefore, the following resolution was passed:
The Board resolved, with great sadness, to apply to the Ministry of Education with a request to close Moriah College at the end of 2012.  The Board reiterates its commitment to providing Jewish education to the community’s children, and this will done by working with parents and community members to enhance and expand the Hebrew School.  
Earlier today Acting Principal Nigel Christiansen met the staff and communicated this news to them. In the coming weeks the Ministry of Education will be helping us with all of the things that need to be done before the end of the year – including liaising with the staff and with the parents to ensure they understand all the options for their children. 
Please note that this decision does not affect Moriah Kindergarten which is a completely separate entity.  
It is an appropriate time to thank all of the many parents, helpers, supporters and students who have worked so hard over the 25 years of the school’s existence. We also thank all those who have worked for the school as teachers and those who have served on its governance bodies. Lastly, I want to thank the community organisations that have donated funds to support the special character aspect of the school. 
There will be some sort of event held to mark the closure of the school, and to mark the beginning of a new phase in which we think differently about the way we deliver a Jewish education to the children of the community. We already have a Hebrew school which is well patronised and which has the active support of a large group of parents. Over the coming months we will be working with this group to see how we can improve what is offered through this medium – perhaps using the new technology that is now available to us to provide an even richer learning experience for our children..

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