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L.A. Jewish seminary likely to stay open

May 6, 2009 |  5:06 pm

A Jewish seminary in Los Angeles that faced the possibility of closing because of its parent organization's budget woes will probably be spared, leaders of Judaism’s Reform Movement have decided.

But the school and two sister campuses in Cincinnati and New York will have to consolidate programs and undertake other cost-cutting measures, officials said.

The president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion had raised the option of closing two of the three U.S. campuses to address a deficit of as much as $8 million.

On Monday, the school’s board of governors instead ordered administrators to devise a plan to balance the budget while preserving the three campuses. A final vote on the financial restructuring plan is scheduled for June 23.

"There is a strong aspiration to maintain our core program on each site," said Rabbi David Ellenson, Hebrew Union’s president. "It is a possibility that ... programs will not be maintained as part of the consolidation."

Ellenson said that Internet classes would be expanded, allowing professors on one campus to teach students at the others. And he said he expected additional savings from employee attrition and early retirements.

The dean of the Los Angeles campus, Steven F. Windmueller, declined to comment.

But Ellenson said the board reached its preliminary decision to maintain the three campuses after an outpouring of support and concern from alumni, Reform congregants and others across the country. Ellenson said he had received more than 2,000 e-mails or letters in the last eight days alone.