East Valley Jewish Day School will move to the campus of Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley in July. The two Chandler-based organizations signed the 11-month lease agreement this week, according to Emily Zappa, the day school’s executive director.
The move would provide the school with facilities it does not have in its current location, including use of the synagogue’s mulitpurpose room for events, its sanctuary for tefillah and the playground.
“We’re very excited,” said Zappa. “We’ve been at about 30 to 35 students for the past few years. ... We would like to grow and expand the school as much as possible. We have the space where we’re moving to be able to do that.”
“I just sent out an announcement to our members, and I’ve been getting congratulations, so not only is our board thrilled, but our membership is thrilled to welcome the day school,” said Debora Bloom, president of Temple Beth Sholom. “We think a lot of each other as organizations. We’re very compatible and very positive about the possibilities for the future.”
She pointed out that the school held its recent winter concert in the TBS-EV sanctuary. “It was a lovely venue for that,” Bloom said.
The day school started in 1999 as a unit of the Tri-City Jewish Community Center and moved with the JCC in 2004. That’s when the JCC changed its name to East Valley Jewish Community Center, and in 2005, the JCC moved to its current location in Chandler.
The school became an independent entity with its own board on June 1, 2009, but has remained a tenant at the East Valley JCC since then.
Asked to comment on the school moving to a new facility, EVJCC Executive Director Steve Tepper said, "Our JCC wishes the East Valley Jewish Day School nothing but success in their new home. A strong day school makes for a strong East Valley, and we look forward to continuing to support their efforts providing Jewish education."
The idea of moving grew from discussions among the day school’s board members over the past couple of years, said Alex Zilberman, the day school’s president.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we’re independent of the JCC,” Zilberman said. “Visibility is our number one priority for the longer-term viability of the school. To put it on a good growth path, we think a separate facility will create a distinct identity for the school. ...
“I think there are very few downsides to the move,” he said. “We’re getting fresh eyes on who we are and what we contribute and bring to the entire community.”
“We have been trying to figure out how to create our own identity separate from the JCC for some time,” Zappa said. “We love [the EVJCC], but we need to begin to show the East Valley that our objectives are different from the J’s. ... The time was right for this move.”
“I think that [the move is] a benefit for both of us,” said Bloom. “The school will have much higher visibility than they had before. We will have so many more people coming onto our campus being aware of where we are and what we have to offer, as well.”
The presence of the school, which serves grades K-7, may also benefit the synagogue’s Shalom Preschool, she said.
“Certainly, having raised children myself,” Bloom said, “I know that if I’m going to be taking an older sibling to the day school, it’s so much more convenient to have the preschool in the same place. It’s one-stop shopping.”
Temple Beth Sholom moved from Mesa to its current campus at 3400 N. Dobson Road in May 2000. The synagogue bought the 20,000-square-foot facility, which sits on about five acres, from Crossroads Church of the Nazarene. It originally rented the space that will house EVJDS to a charter school.
“There’s room for the school to grow in that building,” Bloom said. “We’re certainly not using it to capacity now.”
Among the details that will result from the move, Zappa said, is a name change for the school and new signage visible from the street.
“Being the best-kept secret in the East Valley is not helpful when you’re a small school,” Zappa said.
“I’m really thrilled that we are able to offer this opportunity to the community,”
Bloom said. “It’s something for a lot more than just Temple Beth Sholom.”