Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy
Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy
Harry A. Epstein Campus 13300 Arctic Avenue Rockville, MD 20853
Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy (MJBHA) is composed of a preschool, elementary, middle, and high school, all in the same building. It is a co-ed Modern Orthodox Jewish day school with a decidedly Zionist/pro-Israeli tilt. About seven hundred students attend the school. There is also a small kollel from Israel (Kollel Torah Mitzion, lit. "Torah from Zion") that is associated with the school.
Additionally, a small Orthodox Jewish congregation (Beth Joshua Congregation) meets at MJBHA and holds regular Sabbath and holiday services, as well as the morning service (Shacharit) on Sundays. The synagogue also operates a mikvah and eruv. While outside the scope of this wiki, there are also a variety of nearby kosher food establishments in Rockville, Wheaton, and Kemp Mill.
In 1984, the Board of Education closed Robert E Peary HS at this location, due to declining enrollment.
For many years, the campus deteriorated and became a vacant eyesore in the community. Various community activists, notably Elliot Chabot, a founding member of the Aspen Hill Civic Association, Inc., a member of an advisory group meeting in 1986 to determine re-use options and, continued to pressure the County and Board of Education to find a tenant for the campus.
In 1996, the Berman Academy entered into an agreement with the Board of Education, and in 1999 was able to open classes after very significant renovation was completed.
Sale of Campus Debate, 2010
Berman Academy is seeking, as of November 20, 2010, to buy the campus. Some controversy existed over the matter of a potential future need for a public school campus in Aspen Hill, and whether the price in the original contract's right-to-buy clause is sufficient. Berman Academy has spent millions on the restoration and by all accounts are an ideal neighbor in the community, and the campus as operated in the present day is one of the few notable institutions remaining in operation in Aspen Hill ("More than two dozen speakers signed up for public hearing on sale of Peary High site": Officials at Berman Academy say Montgomery Planning Board recommendation to move forward with sale gives them hope", Liu, Mimi, Montgomery Gazette, November 19, 2010, downloaded 2010 November 19)
On November 30, 2010, the County Council voted 8-1 to sell the campus, with Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg voting against the sale ("Montgomery council approves sale of Peary High School: Andrews opposes sale, saying building might be needed"), Cunningham, Erin and Hyslop, Margie, Montgomery Gazette, December 1, 2010, downloaded 2010 December 1).
Still undecided is the State of Maryland's portion of the sale price of $1.9-millions ([http://www.gazette.net/stories/12062010/polinew145337_32547.php "State share from sale of former Peary High under consideration Officials determining how much Montgomery County, state invested in property"], Hyslop, Margie, Montgomery Gazette, December 6, 2010 downloaded 2010 December 14).