HaMaqom | The Place, a unique Jewish education center in Berkeley and a hub for adult enrichment programs for 47 years, announced in a press release Thursday it will be closing its doors at the end of the summer.
The news came as a surprise to many in the Bay Area, particularly as the organization, formerly called Lehrhaus Judaica, announced in March that it had hired Rabbi Ruth Adar as its new executive director.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult decision for us to make,” board president Lisa Douglass said in the release, “but I do believe that this is not the end, but a new beginning for our programs, staff, and extraordinary educators.”
Founded by the historian Fred Rosenbaum in 1974, HaMaqom is modeled after Germany’s Free Jewish Lehrhaus, a center for interwar Jewish thought in Frankfurt established in 1920 by the philosopher Franz Rosenzweig.
HaMaqom’s stated mission is to “create inclusive communities through Jewish learning and practice.” The organization said it had seen a 137 percent increase in participation over the last year, offering online programming during the pandemic. Still, leadership decided with “thoughtful intention” that closing their doors was the best path forward, the release said.
“Our hope is to conclude the teaching of Lehrhaus Judaica / HaMaqom | The Place with a final lesson,” Adar commented in the statement. “It is possible to wind up business operations in a manner in concert with Jewish values.”