Plans are being laid for a new yeshiva in Canvey Island after the small Orthodox community’s college suffered extensive fire damage in December.
Community leaders have been discussing options such large parts of the Luzern Yeshiva were destroyed late last year. A favoured option, if funding can be found, would be a bigger purpose-built college.
A Sunday night fire, which was initially blamed on an unattended menorah, destroyed the much of the existing site, at which up to 80 Orthodox boys learn.
The site also housed a kosher shop, classrooms, events hall and community centre for the small but growing population of Charedi families, many of whom left London in the past five years owing to a lack of affordable housing.
A new purpose-built religious college would require more than £100,000 in fundraising but community spokesman Joel Friedman said it was certainly one of the options being considered.
“The long-term plan could be just a rebuild or could be building something bigger than they had on site before, which will need some fundraising,” he told the Echo, a local newspaper.
A new college “would be for the same number of pupils, 70-80, but a purpose-built centre would give more space and better facilities, such as a better library,” he said, adding that the local non-Jewish community had been hugely supportive.
“The fire was a massive shock for us and was emotional for the boys and college leaders,” he said, adding that the boys had to stay in London for ten days after it happened. “We’ve all been working to keep the disruption to a minimum.”