Jerusalem College Files for Protection From Creditors

College has some 1,200 students, many of them ultra-Orthodox, and accumulated debts of $6.45 million.

Tess Scheflan

Jerusalem’s Lander Institute, a higher-education college with about 1,200 students, filed a request in the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday for a two-week order of protection from creditors and asking for the appointment of a trustee.

Formerly known as Touro College, the school offers eight separate degree programs and has a staff of 170, most of whom are members of the teaching faculty. The institute says it has debts of 22.5 million shekels ($6.45 million). Its court filing states that, for a variety of reasons, the nonprofit organization that runs it is now insolvent and was unable to meet its payroll for April or other obligations, including payment of rent. The Lander Institute’s creditors include Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and Bank Otsar Hahayal.

The Lander Institute’s administration was replaced at the beginning of last year, the school’s court filing stated, but the new administration discovered it was facing a budget deficit of about 15 million shekels – a situation that, according to the court papers, the new leadership had not been made aware of. The school is also running a current deficit of about 6 million shekels a year, it was added.

Once the new administration became aware of the financial situation toward the end of last year, it began a series of cutbacks of staff and salaries, and also scaled back the space the school was renting, according to court papers. Until this week, it was added, the school administration had expected that another entity with which the school has been in negotiations would make a major contribution to the school and address a significant portion of its debt, but the contribution was ultimately not forthcoming.

According to the school’s website, its offerings include a range of vocational, liberal arts and enrichment programming in English. The Lander Institute’s students, including a large number of ultra-Orthodox students attending classes on the school’s Haredi campus, are in the middle of their second semester courses.