Jewish, Catholic Groups to Use Facility Jointly; Milestone in Inter Faith Cooperation
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Jewish, Catholic Groups to Use Facility Jointly; Milestone in Inter Faith Cooperation

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A 22-acre tract of land in Lower Merion Township, now occupied by the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, has been purchased by the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia in an unusual agreement under which both groups will be able to serve their respective communities at the same location. At an historic meeting this week, officials of the FJA and The Country Day School at Overbrook Foundation signed papers providing for joint occupation of the facility. The agreement ensures the permanent continuation of the Catholic girls school at the site, and at the same time allows for the immediate establishment of a western branch of Jewish Ys and Centers on the property. The location is in the center of a large and growing Jewish population. The Federation of Jewish Agencies acquired the title to the property from The Institute of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart of the City of Philadelphia, owners of the property. Under the agreement, use of parts of the facility with be programmed for non-conflicting uses during the school day and JYC uses during evening, week-end and summer periods.

The “old” building in which the school currently operates its Montessori Division and Lower and Middle Schools will continue to be used primarily by the Catholic Institution. Part of the “new” building, actually a wing of the main building, will be used by the school to house its Upper School, while the other part will be utilized immediately by youth clubs, golden age groups, and other participants of JYC facilities. Kitchen and cafeteria facilities will be divided on a scheduled basis. Morris A. Kravitz, president of the Federation of Jewish Agencies, hailed the agreement as a “milestone” in interfaith cooperation. “To my knowledge,” he said, “this concept pioneers joint operation of a valuable facility for people of two great faiths.” William K. Davis, chairman of the board of directors of the Overbrook Foundation, pointed out that this is the culmination of a one-and-a-half-year relationship and said, “This is not an experiment, but the fruit of successful past cooperation between the two groups.” Since population studies conducted by the Federation of Jewish Agencies indicate a growing Jewish population in Delaware and Montgomery Counties, the Federation has been seeking a location from which to serve the Jewish community. JYC has been involved in sponsoring programs in several locations in the area, using public school and synagogue facilities.

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