Chabad's Michigan Jewish Institute May Close After Failing To Win Accreditation

Thousands of Students Could Be Left in Cold

Shell Campus: Dov Stein, head of academics at Michigan Jewish Institute, stands outside the entrance to The Shul, a $6 million synagogue in West Bloomfield, where some MJI classes are held.
paul berger
Shell Campus: Dov Stein, head of academics at Michigan Jewish Institute, stands outside the entrance to The Shul, a $6 million synagogue in West Bloomfield, where some MJI classes are held.

By Paul Berger

Published September 24, 2013, issue of September 27, 2013.
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Instead, classes appeared to be targeted towards a couple dozen high school students taking dual-enrollment classes in Hebrew.

Although MJI offers degrees in business or computer programs, the overwhelming majority of students pursue a Judaic Studies degree.

In July of this year, Stein posted a photograph of more than one dozen folders containing MJI student files to the social networking site, Google Plus.

It appears that the photograph was meant to celebrate a crop of recent MJI graduates. But it also inadvertently displayed the names and Social Security numbers of several students. The photo has since been taken down.

The Forward conducted a public records search of the students to try to find out if they were based in America. The database search, performed by LexisNexis, a major database aggregator, returned no results.

A LexisNexis specialist said that the firm’s database only contains information about people who have created a public record in America, for example, by applying for a cell phone contract, a driver’s license or a credit card.

The absence of data on the students suggests that they may live overseas, said the specialist, but he cautioned that it is also possible they never applied for loans or other services tracked by the database.

The Forward asked Stein, via email, why the students did not appear to exist in the United States. It also asked why ACICS had deferred its grant of accreditation twice and whether MJI’s students had been informed that the college’s accreditation runs out at the end of this year.

In a statement, MJI responded: “Michigan Jewish Institute, which remains accredited by ACICS, expects to receive a new grant of accreditation by ACICS in the very near future.”

ACICS, which has accredited MJI since the late 1990s, only grants accreditation to institutions with what a spokesman called, “an on-site presence.”

MJI runs classes in The Shul, an impressive $6 million Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue.

The Shul sits at the heart of a 45-acre Campus of Living Judaism, owned by Chabad of Michigan.

MJI’s president, Kasriel Shemtov, is the spiritual director of The Shul and the son of Berel Shemtov, the head of Chabad of Michigan.

This January, MJI won planning approval to build a 16,000-square-foot headquarters on the campus.


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