Catholic Priest Wins in Dispute over Site for Jewish School in Miami

A new effort in a seven-year struggle by the Hebrew Academy, an Orthodox Jewish Day School, to find a new site in Miami Beach was rebuffed today after the priest of a Roman Catholic church near the proposed new site expressed strong opposition.

The Miami Beach City Council declined to take action on the Academy’s proposal for re-zoning of its property on Alton Road to permit building of a $750,000 school building. In so doing, the council ignored Academy sponsors who picketed the Council chambers.

The council instead named a committee to find a “suitable location” for the school. The committee was instructed to consider the Alton Road site, which is across the street from the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. In literature distributed before the meeting, Msgr. Willim Barry, pastor of the church, was described as “violently opposed” to building of a Jewish school in the same neighborhood.

However, both proponents and foes of the Alton Road site deplored injection of a Catholic-Jewish issue in the dispute. Carl R. Hoffman, attorney for property owners opposing the site, who was named a member of the special committee to find a new location, said that his clients objected because they felt the site should either be developed residentially or as part of beautifucation of the approach to a new causeway. He said “We would oppose it just as much if it was a Catholic or Protestant school.”

Other members of the special committee are Rabbi Alexander Gross, principal of the day school; Ben Cohen, attorney for the school; and Ben Segal, president of the Miami Beach Board of Realtors. The committee was instructed to report back to the city council at its next session on May 18.

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