The old B’nai Moshe building in Oak Park that housed Bais Yaakov School.
Demolition has begun on the old B’nai Moshe building in Oak Park that housed Bais Yaakov School. Photo by Barbara Lewis

Yeshiva Beth Yehudah begins building project on old B’nai Moshe site.

Barbara Lewis Contributing Writer

Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, Detroit’s largest Jewish day school with 1,063 students, according to Jewish Federation figures, has begun construction of a new elementary and middle school building for girls in Oak Park.

The new facility will replace the existing Bais Yaakov School for girls on 10 Mile Road at Church, which was originally built for Congregation B’nai Moshe in 1959.

After B’nai Moshe moved to West Bloomfield in 1990, United Jewish Charities, the forerunner of the United Jewish Foundation (UJF), bought the property from B’nai Moshe for $1.6 million and leased it to Yeshiva Beth Yehudah (YBY) for an undetermined number of years “with all rights and responsibilities of ownership.”

Bais Yaakov renovated the building and 400 girls, from kindergarten through high school, started classes there in 1991. Administrators say they anticipate enrollment of 500 girls in the elementary and middle school in grades K-8.

The high school girls and the preschool program moved to a separate newly constructed building on the west side of Church Road in 2013.

In October 2017, the United Jewish Foundation transferred the property deed to YBY for $50,000.

Oak Park’s Planning Commission approved the site plan for the 4.28-acre property at its Nov. 12 meeting. Building demolition began the next day.

During construction, the Bais Yaakov students will attend classes at the Glenn Schoenhals school, a former Southfield public elementary school on Lincoln Road that closed in 2016. Yeshiva Beth Yehudah used the Schoenhals facility to house its boys’ school during construction of its new building, which opened in September 2017.

The first floor of the building will be 53,333 square feet (an increase from the current 45,875 square feet). The building will stretch from 10 Mile Road to I-696. The addition of a second story of about 35,000 square feet will bring the total square footage to approximately 90,000.

The building will include 24 classrooms, two cafeterias (one for elementary and one for middle school), a gymnasium, a library, computer labs and a science lab. Eighty-six parking spaces will be constructed along the Church Road side of the building.

The site plan also says Yeshiva Beth Yehudah may build a third-floor addition after five to 10 years.

A security guard at the site said construction was slightly behind schedule because the demolition crew, Adama Demolition Company of Detroit, had to dispose of some contaminants discovered after they started work. The construction contractor is the George W. Auch Company of Pontiac.

The UJF was happy to learn about the building. “While the UJF no longer owns the site, we are very excited about the upcoming project and the effect it will have on the school. YBY is truly a great institution in the community,” said Steven Ingber, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit COO.

Yeshiva Beth Yehudah’s administrators did not respond to requests for additional information about the project.