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Brussels Jewish school to move due to safety concerns

(JTA) — One of Brussels’ three Jewish schools is reportedly planning to move to a new location because of parental safety concerns about its current location.

Situated at Boulevard Poincaré near the Belgian capital’s Midi train station, the Maïmonide Jewish school has seen a drop in attendance over the past few years, according to a recent article in La Capitale, a Belgian newspaper. 

“The neighborhood has noticeably deteriorated,” Jacques Wajc, president of the school’s board, is quoted as telling the paper. “The institution has had problems because of problems of insecurity and propriety.”

One of Brussels’ poorer areas, the neighborhood is home to many Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants, peddlers, drug dealers and some sex workers who ply their trade illegally outside of Belgium’s government-regulated prostitution industry. 

The perceived deterioration in the neighborhood has meant that “many parents no longer wish to enroll their children in Maïmonide because they fear for their safety,” Wajc said. “The drop in students brings with it a drop in revenues, which makes it difficult for the school to even pay its expenses.”

La Capitale reported that Maimonide owes the Belgian government and the Belgian social security authority roughly $8 million.

The prospect of moving Maimonide from its current building, where it has always operated, has been discussed for a number of years by the school’s board, "but has apparently now become inevitable," the paper reported. The report did not say when the move is planned to take place.

Unlike the centrally located Maimonide, the Brussels region’s other Jewish schools, Ganenou and Beth Aviv, are situated in the relatively affluent suburbs of Uccle and Forest, where the lion’s share of Brussels’ Jewish population of 10,000 reside.

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