Two years ago, Chabad of the Central Cascades in Issaquah opened a preschool. Four children enrolled. This year, says Rabbi Shalom Farkash, they already have 15 kids registered, and he expects a few stragglers to join by the September start date.
“It grew very rapidly,” Farkash told JTNews.
The Chabad had been renting two prefabricated classrooms, but lacked the funds to buy the structures. In addition to housing the preschool, the buildings, which provide 2,800 square feet of space, contain the Hebrew school — another rapidly growing program.
Meanwhile, the community had been providing financial assistance to an older woman with a rare disease and no family. In August, she passed away; in November, the rabbi received a surprising phone call.
“I get a phone call from Charles Schwab saying that she put us as the beneficiary,” said Farkash. “We didn’t expect any return [from helping her].”
The funds were enough to serve as seed money for buying the classrooms, and the community began scraping together the rest of the money needed to make the purchase. “[We] needed additional funding from community,” said Farkash. “Everybody gave a little bit.”
They pulled together around $50,000, and as of two weeks ago the buildings were theirs.
“Now we have a beautiful space for our preschool,” said the rabbi.
The community spirit that came together to acquire the buildings spread to one of the congregants, an Eagle Scout out to earn his Eagle badge. He recruited his troop, and together the men and boys planted trees, landscaped, and installed a playground for the incoming preschoolers.
This fall, one classroom will serve a 2–3-year-old group, and the other will serve the 3–4 year olds. Now, Farkash says his challenge is what to do with the Hebrew school, which has over 50 students.
“I have two months to figure out exactly what am I doing,” he said.