New Yeshiva Building Goes Up In Miami


by Fay Kranz Greene - MIAMI, FLORIDA

December 30, 2003

Anyone who has ever been to North Miami will remember the Golden Glades Interchange - the double, figure-eight elevated junction which is the intersection for almost every major Florida highway. If ever there was a ‘golden’ spot near which to build a Yeshiva, this would be it.

This past September, Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Miami realized the dream. They opened a completely refurbished, 87,000 square-foot building on 8.5 acres of land, just a stone’s throw from the interchange, to house their burgeoning Yeshiva for boys and girls in grades preschool through high school. And on a recent Sunday, despite torrential rain, more than 1,000 people attended a huge open house carnival and concert, which was designed to introduce the Lubavitch Educational Center to the community at large.

Rabbi Benzion Korf, principal of the school said that the Landau Yeshiva in Miami’s South Beach, which now houses the Yeshivah Gedolah and boys high school had been in use since the school’s inception thirty years ago. “However, for the past few years, thank G-d, we have had a steadily increasing enrollment, many new parents and supporters and we were literally bursting at the seams. Last year, we enrolled 560 students in all divisions.”

“We were always looking for ways to expand” said Korf “and several years ago, a group of supporters found this site, but at $6.5 million, it was way above our budget. We negotiated for almost three years until the price came down substantially and the building was bought and held for us until such time as we could get a mortgage.”

As Korf tells it, getting a mortgage was not a simple task. Several banks had turned them down and their time was running out on the property. “I was afraid we had lost this golden opportunity” said Korf. The next day, a representative from Southtrust Bank unexpectedly called the rabbi to arrange for a meeting. When Korf told him he needed a commitment letter in one week (an unheard of condition in the industry,) the officer was unfazed and one week later, the building was theirs.

Korf said the experience concretized a fundamental Chassidic teaching for him. “We think we run the show” he said, “but when we open up to the idea that we are fallible and finite, G-d kicks in and rescues us. The timing turned out to be propitious because by then the rates were down and everything worked out even better than we had anticipated.”

The construction and remodeling of the building, which has seven stories, four elevators and was completely gutted, was nothing short of a miracle as well. They were determined to open in time for the 2003-04 school session, but had just over six months to do the remodeling. “No one believed that we could do a project of this magnitude in that time” said Korf, “but we did it, we opened only two weeks late.”

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