By Naomi Levin, Australian Jewish News
Beth Rivkah Ladies College principal Shmuel Gurewicz has personally guaranteed reimbursement for students enrolled in his failed Jerusalem seminary.
Gurewicz established the Michlelet Morasha seminary for Lubavitch post-high school girls two years ago.
Gurewicz, who continues to operate both Michlelet Morasha and Beth Rivkah, announced in a recent letter to parents that the seminary would close because of high rental commitments, the strength of the shekel against the US dollar, families defaulting on fees, and the manner that MASA -– an organisation that subsidises Israel trips for young Diaspora Jews -– pays its grants.
According to the parent of one of Michlelet Morasha’s enrolled students, the seminary’s administration cashed tuition cheques just days before announcing the seminary would close.
In turn, the closure announcement was made just days before the commencement of Israel’s academic year, leaving students with few options and their parents out of pocket.
Gurewicz then posted a letter on a popular Chabad website, which indicated that despite present financial difficulties, Michlelet Morasha would pay parents back in full.
“I reiterate our commitment to return the deposits of every parent,” Gurewicz said in the letter.
“Where necessary, this money will come out of my personal pocket. And besides these monies, there are still many debts that will have to be paid in Israel.”
He added that the seminary staff would do everything they could to find the students places at other institutions.
American father Shmuel Simenowitz, whose daughter was enrolled at Michlelet Morasha, said the school banked his cheque for more than $5000. Following discussions with Gurewicz and other staff members, Simenowitz said he hopes he will be reimbursed.
“I’m inclined to believe that the closing was unavoidable and it was made to look worse than it was, by the bank putting in post-dated cheques it was holding as collateral, against the seminary’s overdraft line of credit,” Simenowitz said.
He added that the seminary could have managed its closing better, suggesting that Gurewicz could have contacted parents personally, rather than letting it play out in the Chabad media.
Simenowitz said his daughter had been accepted by three seminaries, but specifically chose Michlelet Morasha. She will now stay in the United States and “explore chessed and alternate education options”, he said.
The AJN attempted to contact Gurewicz, but he was unavailable.