NEWTON – Hebrew College, which has the only rabbinical school in New England, and Temple Reyim announced last week they are partnering to create “a new shared campus for Jewish life” on the grounds of the Conservative temple in Auburndale.
Plans call for Hebrew College – a private, nonprofit nondenominational college for Jewish studies with numerous community education programs and rabbinical, cantorial and Jewish education schools – to relocate to the temple’s nearly 4-acre grounds in December 2022.
The college will be relocating from its 7-acre campus at 160 Herrick Road in Newton Centre.
Hebrew College has one of the few nondenominational rabbinical schools in the world. Founded in 1921, the college celebrates 100 years this fall.
The college and the temple said in a joint statement the shared campus model will allow each to maintain their identities and educational programs, strengthen their missions, and serve the wider Jewish community.
It’s not a merger, according to Hebrew College. Instead, the college and the temple and other partners will retain their own identities and staff. The shared campus will use a condominium model of joint ownership between the temple and Hebrew College, with a condo association managing the space sharing. Other site partners will have long-term leases.
“Our new campus will preserve the warmth of the communities at Hebrew College and Temple Reyim, while creating pioneering opportunities for the college to grow, meet evolving needs, and prepare Jewish spiritual and educational leaders to meet people at many different doorways to Jewish life,” said Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, in a statement.
To pay for this move, the college has launched a capital campaign called “Branching Out, Building Together,” with a goal of raising $9.5 million by Oct. 15. It has already raised $5.8 million in leadership gifts. When the campaign reaches its goal, the college will receive a $1 million challenge grant from a major philanthropic foundation to help secure its future, the college said.
Plans call for the renovation of portions of Temple Reyim’s building and an addition to the temple. The project will include 25,000 square feet of newly renovated existing space and a two-floor addition of 15,800 square feet of state-of-the art facilities.
The college said the shared resources will include “a renovated performance space, classrooms, a recording studio, a light-filled Beit Midrash, the Hebrew College library and lounge, Beit Neshama (a space for breath, movement, and contemplative practice), communal meeting rooms, and a central courtyard.”
Three years ago, the college decided to sell its campus to eliminate debt, reduce operating costs and rededicate resources to people and programs, and to create new collaborations.
In August 2018, Winthrop Park School Inc. purchased the college’s campus for $18 million, according to city records. This campus has about 6.7 acres with 72,000 square feet in four interconnected buildings that were built in 2002. It carries an assessed value of $30.7 million in fiscal 2021, according to city assessors.
The sale of the campus, which was designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates, eliminated Hebrew College’s debt for the first time in recent history. Hebrew College started in Roxbury, and for a time was located in a mansion in Brookline before it settled in Newton.
After Hebrew College sold its building, it decided on a shared campus to reduce operating costs and create new collaborations and “a national model for Jewish communal non-profit success,” the press release states.
“We are creating a vibrant Jewish campus, lowering costs by sharing real estate, and at the same time allowing for growth and expansion for the college, Temple Reyim, and our partners,” said Andy Offit, chair of the Hebrew College Board of Trustees and a member and past president of Temple Reyim, in a statement.
Organizations already at Temple Reyim include the Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center, Kesher Newton Jewish Afterschool Program and Zamir Chorale Boston. Hebrew College brings Jewish Arts Collaborative, the Jewish Women’s Archive, Keshet, the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, RUACH/Breath Lab and Camp Yavneh.
“Our vision is to strengthen the present and future of Temple Reyim and welcome organizational partners that share our core mission, which is grounded in a deep love of Jewish life and learning, spiritual openness, and meaningful relationships,” said Temple Reyim’s Rabbi Daniel Berman, in a statement. The temple is now celebrating its 70th year.
“This collaboration will allow them to grow as institutions, optimizing their resources to ensure their long-term sustainability, and enabling them to better serve the Jewish community throughout Greater Boston,” said Rabbi Marc Baker, president and CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, in a prepared statement.
Hebrew College has submitted its zoning application to the city with the goal of beginning the renovation and construction starting in mid-October, 2021. The college presently has a budget of $8.5 million. In all, the college serves more than 2,700 adults, teens and Jewish professionals and interreligious leaders.