Lebovic Campus a major hit
October 16, 2012 | Shlomo Kapustin - Correspondent
From the left: Issadore Sharp, Larry Tanenbaum, Ed Sonshine, Fran Sonshine and Joe Lebovic can be proud of the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus, the second phase of which opened on Sunday.
VAUGHAN - The curtains officially rose this week on much of Greater Toronto’s newest community campus, the culmination of a 12-year-old vision to expand the GTA’s community infrastructure footprint northward.
“It’s a different kind of Jewish community,” said Ted Sokolsky, president and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, “in which organizations learn to share, learn to dream together and learn to plan together…opening a door between one generation and the next.”
Sunday’s brunch and afternoon open house marked the official launch of Phase 2 of the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus, comprising the Schwartz/Reisman Jewish Community Centre; Jack & Pat Kay Centre Camp; Schwartz/Reisman Centre daycare and pre-school, in the Gorman Shore Goodman Childhood Education Centre; and Reena Community Residence.
Later this fall, the Community Services Pavilion will open, featuring Mount Sinai’s Sherman Health & Wellness Centre, offering non-emergency medical services to area residents; auxiliary community services; and the Leo & Sala Goldhar Conference & Celebration Centre.
The latest additions to the landmark campus join the Kimel Family Education Centre, housing the TanenbaumCHAT high school, which opened in 2009, and precede the Phase 3 construction of a performance complex.
Also in store is the Ben & Edith Himel Family Education Centre at the northern branch of the Bialik Hebrew Day School, slated to open next fall, and organizers expect the Beit Rayim Synagogue and School and an additional day-school-to-be-determined to call the campus home.
Times have changed since Leo Goldhar, co-chair, Lebovic Campus Management Committee, found the 50-acre tract of land in 1999.
“When we started off,” recalled Leslie Gales, chair, Tomorrow Leadership Cabinet, “this was nothing – this was grass.”
The organizers based their vision, though, on the rapid Jewish population growth in York Region to more than 40,000 in 1999 – the fastest rate of growth outside Israel. In fact, by the time the first brick on the campus had been laid, neighbourhood housing was beginning to crop up. cont. from page 1.
Joe Lebovic, who also sits on B’nai Brith Canada’s Board of Governors, recalled the pivotal 1999 parlour meeting where shares of the land were offered and $3 million was raised, about half of the purchase price. The remainder – all in cash – was raised at a second parlour meeting, bringing the total amount to $6.5 million (including incidental costs) and the total donor families to 43.
Together with his brother, Wolf, he has contributed about $22.5 million to the campus and its buildings: a pace-setting $20 million for the campaign, plus $500,000 for naming rights to the nearby street and $2 million for the Bialik school building.
All of which prompted Sokolsky to congratulate Lebovic just before the event began on Sunday: “You made it happen.”
But having the family name attached to the campus was far from his goal, he said.
“The whole Jewish religion is based on what does it take for Jewish sustainability,” he said. “This is such a case of Jewish sustainability, which offers Jews the chance to meet each other, stay together.”
Project organizers believe the campus charts a more efficient course in community planning.
“[The] linkage of organizations and people who continually learn how to share facilities…under one roof – that’s the theory and vision of the Lebovic campus,” said Sokolsky, pointing as an example to the event’s venue – a gymnasium that is shared by TanenbaumCHAT and the community centre, and which was elegantly repurposed for the day.
This all-encompassing aspect – combined with the length of planning time and its size – make it unique in North America, he said.
Sokolsky said the cost so far is about $140 million.
“Even while we must fund pressing needs for today,” he said, “we must build for the future.”
The full 50-acre parcel, bought from one seller, is too large for the community, and some blocks are being sold, leaving the campus with about 35 acres. Sale proceeds, said Lebovic, will fund an endowment to operate the campus.