New Jewish Early Learning Center in Center City

Megan Nachod, Buerger Center Director, meets with Sharon Schwartz, Buerger parent, and her 19-month-old daughter Ava to complete the enrollment process.  The Buerger Early Learning Center is a joint program of Congregation Rodeph Shalom and Federation Early Learning Services (FELS).
— Lynn B. Edelman

On August 30, the dream of a full day Jewish child care program in Center City Philadelphia will become a reality as the Buerger Early Learning Center officially opens its doors.  The center, which will be located at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 619 North Broad Street, represents a partnership between the synagogue and Federation Early Learning Services (FELS).  
Maddy Malis, FELS president and CEO, says that community response to the project has been “overwhelming.”  “Our phones have been ringing off the hook with inquiries from parents who have been enrolling their children at a rate that far exceeds our first year projections,” she comments, stating her belief that Center City families are “hungry for a high quality, Jewish full day educational experience for their infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.”  She comments that “FELS’ reputation for high quality programming and community confidence in Congregation Rodeph Shalom has fueled excitement in this new project.”

Among the first children to be enrolled was 19-month-old Ava, daughter of Sharon Schwartz and her husband Kenny.  Sharon and her sister Veronica attended the Lassin Early Learning Center in Northeast Philadelphia, which is also administered by FELS.  Their parents immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1975.  “FELS did so much to help our family during our resettlement.  I am very appreciative of all the support that we received,” Schwartz says, adding “I am looking forward to my daughter following in my footsteps.”

FELS Board Chair Marcia Wasserman expressed her confidence in the Buerger Early Learning Center’s Director, Megan Nachod.  Nachod, who most recently served as director of the Jewish early childhood program at Adath Emanu-El in Mt. Laurel, N.J., and as an Early Intervention Specialist at the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, has a master’s degree in early childhood education and is certified by the American Montessori Society.  “She has extensive teaching and administrative experience and the ideal personality to make this a first-rate center,” Wasserman maintains, adding that “Preschool teacher Suzy Curcio has comparable credentials and experience.”

Tom Perloff, director of Finance and Development for Congregation Rodeph Shalom, shares Wasserman’s enthusiasm.  “Every step of the way, we are creating a space and program that is purpose-driven.  The vibrant, fresh, custom-renovated space is almost complete:  construction is on schedule, classroom equipment and materials have been ordered and a first-rate director and other key staff members have been hired,” he says.

Rabbi Jill Maderer, who has been involved in the project since its inception, notes the symbolism of opening the doors to the new facility just ten days before Rosh Hashanah.  “We are excited that before the Jewish New Year, children and parents will be filling the Buerger Center.  Everyone’s hard work and and determination have paid off in such a meaningful way. August 30, our opening day, will be a dream come true,” she says.

Federation Early Learning Services enrolls infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children from diverse economic, religious and racial backgrounds on a year-round basis.  FELS serves more than 1000 each year in its 11 programs throughout the Delaware Valley.

Meet Center staff and learn more about the program during one of two scheduled open houses, Thursday, July 22, 4-7 p.m., or Sunday, August 1, 10 a.m. 12 noon.  RSVP to Center Director Megan Nachod, 267535-2643, or [email protected]  Parking is available onsite and refreshments will be served.

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