A growing ultra-Orthodox congregation will add a daycare center to a two-block educational campus in Beaver Hills.
At Tuesday night’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting in the basement of 200 Orange St., the Yeshiva Gedolah Rabbinical Institute of New England won unanimous approval to open the center on the second floor of the former St. Brendan Catholic School at 342 Ellsworth Ave. The yeshiva already runs an elementary school on the first floor of the Ellsworth Avenue building, and a high school a block away at 292 Norton St.
BZA commissioners granted the yeshiva a special exception that would allow the day care center to serve up to 90 children, even though the yeshiva expects its current day care needs to be approximately 70 children.
“Most of the children will be coming from the local area,” said yeshiva director Mendel Deitsch. “We don’t anticipate a lot of traffic.”
The yeshiva purchased the former St. Brendan School in 2017, when it bought all three parcels at the St. Brendan Church property at 435 Whalley Ave. for $1.525 million. Because of declining enrollments, the church closed the school and merged it with the St. Aedan school in Westville.
In 2007, the yeshiva spent $900,000 on a 13,000-plus square-foot property at 292 Norton St., where it runs the Yeshivas Beis Dovid Shlomo all-male Jewish high school. The yeshiva’s website says that the high school, which was founded in 1976 in the home of Reb Dovid & Sara Deitsch, now serves over 150 students.
“Yeshivas Beis Dovid Shlomo enjoys worldwide recognition for its excellent academics and the achievements of our students,” reads the the website. “Due to our well-known reputation, YBDS attracts students from as far away as Europe, Australia and the Far East.”
After the meeting, Deitsch declined to comment on any other aspects of the congregation beyond the proposed day care center. The school’s operators have declined requests to write about the school, which serves a growing Lubavitch Chasidic community settling in Beaver Hills.
Only one person came out on Tuesday night to testify against the yeshiva’s proposal to open the day care center at 342 Ellsworth Ave.
Rachel Wright, who owns two houses on Ellsworth Avenue immediately next to the former St. Brendan Catholic School, said high school students sometimes play basketball until 2 a.m. at the court just behind the elementary school.
“We’re working people,” she told the commissioners. “We pay taxes. We need our rest.” Besides the occasional late night noise, she said, she hasn’t had any problems with anyone at the yeshiva.
BZA Chair Pat King pointed out that the yeshiva’s proposed hours for the day care center are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
“I understand the neighbor’s concerns,” she said. But, she said, Wright’s concerns seem like they should be worked out between the two neighbors or through law enforcement, if necessary. “I don’t think it’s really relevant to the issue before us,” she said.
In the basement hallway of 200 Orange St. after the public hearing, Shimon Deitsch, who also works for the yeshiva, assured Wright that the school would make sure that students are not up late on the basketball court disrupting neighbors’ sleep.
“We’ll be a good neighbor,” he said.