Zareinu buys Leo Baeck building on Atkinson

Leo Baeck is selling its branch on Atkinson Avenue in Thornhill. GOOGLE STREETVIEW PHOTO

Zareinu Educational Centre has purchased the school building on Atkinson Avenue in Thornhill, where it rents classroom space from Leo Baeck Day School.

Zareinu, a school and treatment centre for children with physical and developmental challenges, moved into the building at the start of the academic year.

The building had been owned and occupied by Leo Baeck Day School, a Reform day school, which is moving further north into the Kimel Family Education Centre on the Schwartz/Reisman campus. The plan had originally been for Leo Baeck to share space with the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, but earlier this month the high school announced it was leaving the northern campus and moving students to its southern campus.

Zareinu, which has been in operation for 25 years, currently rents five classrooms and office space in the 60,000-square-foot Atkinson building. Other tenants include the Reform Mikvah of Greater Toronto, which is administered by the Reform and Conservative movements, and Temple Kol Ami, a Reform congregation.

Zareinu will honour the mikvah’s lease, said mikvah co-chair Robin Leszner. “It’s business as usual,” she said. “Zareinu is very happy to have us.” Temple Kol Ami could not be reached for comment.

When Leo Baeck announced it was selling the building, Zareinu president Danny Gordon said he envisioned the building becoming “a centre of excellence,” serving Jewish children and adults with disabilities.

In an interview in December, Gordon said he hoped the centre would offer services for children, teens and adults with daytime, after-school and summer programs.

“This is a historic moment for our entire community and the community of families and children with special needs,” Gordon said in a press release announcing the purchase of the building. “The acquisition of this beautiful facility, which will grow into a collaborative centre of excellence, serving a like-minded population, is an example for every community.”

Zareinu said it hoped to maintain its relationship with Leo Baeck, stating in the release, “Our partnership with Leo Baeck has provided our students, and theirs, with meaningful educational opportunities.”

Gordon declined to comment about the purchase of the building.