The first Jewish Long Day Care Centre and preschool to open in Canberra, Australia held its first day of operations last Wednesday.
The award winning, state of the art Gan Yisroel Childcare and Community Centre situated in leafy Northern Canberra has opened its doors to the Jewish children in Australia’s Capital and the surrounding region.
“This is another huge and exciting step in ensuring that there is Jewish continuity for generations to come,” said Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Chabad’s representative and Rabbi in Canberra. “It is our belief that the establishment of thriving Jewish educational facilities contribute to the welfare of the wider community. For decades, Melbourne and Sydney have derived immeasurable benefit from the Jewish educational infrastructure established by their communities. Until this date Canberra’s Jewish community had been viewed as being too small to invest in a Jewish preschool however we don’t view it as needing to have less Jewish services than other larger cities. You cannot place a value on even one neshama (soul),” he said.
There are more than 1200 Jewish residents in Canberra and many more in the surrounding region. When asked why Chabad has placed such a strong emphasis on, and investment in, opening a Jewish preschool, Rebbetzin Chasia Feldman, Co-Director of Chabad ACT and Jewish studies coordinator, said, “It is a natural and instrumental step in establishing a vibrant and sustainable Jewish community. Our future begins with the education we give to our children from a very young age. Our preschool was designed and created to offer the very best of physical standards. Together with our dedicated staff we also aim to be committed in providing the highest level of education including general development, academics and Jewish enrichment, to giving emotional and spiritual care for the children who attend.”
The encouragement and drive behind building the preschool was the dream of some local Jewish families to be able to educate their children here in the spirit of their religion and tradition. This was made into a reality as a result of the efforts and inspiration of Rabbi Arel Serebryanski of Melbourne.
Local Jewish parent Ruth Blakely, who moved to Canberra two years ago with her husband Aviel and two daughters, Maya and Ella (5 and 2), said, “I am thrilled that now, whilst living in Canberra, my children will receive an authentic Jewish education in a warm and professional environment. I think it’s essential to support Chabad in their crucial work, bringing Judaism to all corners of the earth so that families like mine can access these vital services.”
The Long Day Care Centre and Preschool will meet all the necessary government outcomes and also provide an integrated Torah curriculum – the combined curriculum will comply with the national quality standards of the ‘early years learning framework.’
The Preschool has capacity for 55 children and has commenced operations with 8 enrollments. More children are expected to sign up to begin studying at the preschool in the near future.