Message to our IRDS/Heschel West Alumni Families,
Thank you for your support over the past week. It has been heartwarming to see our community come together committed to rebuild our beloved school.
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update of what has been going on over the past week.
Receiving word that our school had been damaged by the fire was heartbreaking for our small tight knit community. It was wonderful to be able to come together last Saturday night for Havdallah, to hug one another, and usher out Shabbat as a family. Thank you to those of you who were able to join us – it meant so much to our current families to see the support we have from those who came before them.
As so many of you can relate to with your personal homes, it was difficult for us to get onto campus to assess the damage. We were finally able to visit campus on Monday and the reality we faced was a hard one. Several of our buildings have been completely destroyed with years of Judaica, reference materials, books, school records, and history lost. The upper fields have been affected and the gaga pit destroyed. In addition, the remaining classroom buildings have smoke damage and will require extensive cleanup.
With support from the Jewish Federation, we have been working with a crisis management team to assist us with navigating through this process. The daunting exercise of assessing and cleaning our campus has begun. Earlier this week an Industrial Hygienist came to campus to take samples and evaluate our situation. We should have that report shortly and this will help us determine our next steps. We have also had several remediation teams visit campus to provide us with a report of what needs to be done and how to proceed.
The Administration team with support from our Board of Directors has been working around the clock to secure a temporary site for our school to operate while the remediation to our campus takes place. So many Jewish organizations reached out to us to offer space at their institutions. After many site visits and careful consideration, the decision was made to make Temple Etz Chaim our temporary home. Temple Etz Chaim is able accommodate both our preschool and elementary school and provide us with enough unique spaces so that academic learning can be facilitated in the best possible way. Our current task is working out some of the logistics such as transportation options, as this location is far for some of our community. We are so grateful for the red carpet treatment that Temple Etz Chaim has given to us and we look forward to resuming school on their campus after the Thanksgiving weekend.
In the meantime, we have been running a camp, under the direction of Ashley from Art Camp for the last couple of days and will continue with this camp Monday and Tuesday so our families have a child care option.
While we do have adequate insurance coverage, the initial costs of stabilizing, mobilizing, and relocating are climbing. Insurance will eventually kick in and cover most costs, but we are in need of immediate funds to purchase new school supplies for the children, teaching supplies for the teachers and ensure that our mounting bills are covered so we can continue to put all of our focus on the well-being of the students and our families. As you know, a go-fund me page was created and we hope that you will consider participating in this campaign. Here is the link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/help-rebuild-ilan-ramon-day-school
Thank you to those of you who have already generously donated.
We are #IRDSStrong and will rebuild our school. Our school is a sacred and special community, founded 25 years ago, because visionaries, including several of you, believed that our community needed its Jewish soul to be nurtured. We are a truly special and sacred community, and I am so proud of us all.