Groundbreaking planned for Chabad's new day school


Chabad of Southern Nevada, a Jewish educational and social service organization, is expanding its facilities in the Las Vegas Valley.

The agency will break ground on Tuesday for a $10 million, 65,000-square-foot campus as the new location for its Desert Torah Academy, a day school offering full Judaic and secular studies for preschool through eighth-grade pupils.

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will join other community leaders in a groundbreaking festival at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the construction site, 1254 Vista Drive. There will be music, presentations and refreshments in addition to the symbolic shovel ceremony.

The Robert Cohen Educational Campus will be built on a stretch of land around the corner from Chabad's existing headquarters at 1261 Arville St. in central Las Vegas. It is expected to include 20 classrooms, a multimedia library, gymnasium, art room, science lab, computer lab, swimming pool, offices and multipurpose rooms.

"The wheels are in motion," Rabbi Shea Harlig, executive director of Chabad of Southern Nevada, said in a news release. "Demolition is already under way and we expect to enter the grading and construction phase in early August. While we do not as yet have all the capital we need, I do believe that -- in spite of these difficult economic times -- once more people out there get to know what we're building here for our children, they will recognize this window of opportunity for what it is and there will be a new groundswell of support."

Coordinators of the building campaign believe that once the day school moves into its new home, Chabad will be able to expand programs and services that previously were beyond its reach because of a lack of space.

Chabad of Southern Nevada was founded in 1990 by Rabbi Shea and Dina Harlig. It includes a network of five community centers staffed by more than 50 rabbis, teachers and counselors.

In addition to the school, the organization offers summer camps, adult education, crisis counseling, hospital and prison chaplaincy, emergency food and shelter, and holiday programs, among other services. No membership is required, and programs are available for all ages.

"People are invited and encouraged to participate at their own pace, at their own level," Harlig said.

For further information, call 259-0777.