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Some Of City's Jewish Schools Face Rebuilding Without Official Help

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As the city races to repair public schools damaged by the storm, private schools knocked out by Sandy, including several Jewish schools, face relocating and rebuilding without official help. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The Mazel Day School, a popular Brighton Beach Jewish school, was buried under six feet of water by Sandy.

"It is very, very bad," said Inna Izman, a teacher at the school. "Our first floor got destroyed completely."

"Completely wiped out, floor to ceiling," said Gennady Favel, a parent of a student at the school. "You had chairs, tables, records, computers. Everything was floating."

The UJA-Federation of New York says at least four Jewish day schools in the city are no longer habitable and dozens more were damaged.

This week, only workers in protective gear are allowed into the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor. During the storm, water raced in, filling the building like a bathtub.

The principal said nothing survived the flood. He thought the only option was to close completely and send students to other Jewish schools. But parents held an emergency meeting and asked if the school could relocate. It opened last Friday, far from the Rockaways in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The Mazel Day School also relocated its students. Both schools said finding new sites was difficult with several Jewish schools needing space at once.

"There is a lot of demand for these kind of buildings," Favel said.

The Mazel students are now split among three different locations, some traveling a long distance by bus.

"We are feeling like we are missing a huge part of our school, like they are away from us and they miss us as well," Izman said. "So it is a big devastation."

Rebuilding and replacing will be difficult. Unlike public schools, the Jewish schools say they've had no government aid.

"Everything got flooded and everything needs to be replaced," said Gennady Favel. "Now that we have a problem with mold, we can't take any chances. So, of course, everything needs to be treated because we've got little kids here."

The schools usually rely on donations but many of their families are now coping with damaged or destroyed homes. Still, they say, help has come. At the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor, the principal was so touched by kindness of strangers and the families' hopes for the future, he decided to change the school's name. It will now be Yeshiva Bitachon...Protected School.

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