Harlem Hebrew becomes fifth school in Hebrew Charter School Center network

NEW YORK — The New York State Board of Regents today formally approved the Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School for opening in the fall of 2013, making it the fifth school in the Hebrew Charter School Center network and the third to be granted a charter this spring.

Harlem Hebrew will be an elementary school serving families from Harlem and the Upper West Side of Manhattan in Community School District 3, starting with 156 students in grades K-1 and expanding over the next five years to 446 students in K-5. The dual language immersion school will be located in southern Harlem and sited in private space.

Harlem Hebrew joins two other schools in the HCSC network that are already operating in the New York metro area: the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, the Center’s flagship school, which opened in 2009; and Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick, N.J., which opened in 2010. The two other HCSC-affiliated schools that have been approved this spring are Kavod Elementary Charter School in San Diego (scheduled to open in fall 2012) and Sela Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. (fall 2013).
“This might be the most meaningful day yet for our movement,” said HCSC Board Chair Sara Berman, a Manhattan resident and co-lead applicant for Harlem Hebrew. “We couldn’t dream of a better way to culminate our most successful application season than by adding another great school to one of the city’s most historic and proud communities. We deeply appreciate the Regents’ vote of confidence in our model, along with the tremendous support we have received from the Harlem community, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Joining Berman as co-lead applicant for Harlem Hebrew is William Allen, adjunct professor at John Jay College, District Leader for Assembly District 70, and life-long Harlem resident.

Other members of the board of trustees include:

  • Linda Aristondo, assistant prosecutor in Jersey City and Harlem resident
  • Daniel Cohen, Democratic State Committee Member and Upper West Side resident
  • Rabbi David Gedzelman, Executive Vice President of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and Harlem resident
  • Lisa Lippman, SVP/Director at the Brown Harris Stevens real estate brokerage
  • Basil Smikle, political consultant, former advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton, and Harlem community activist
  • Reverend Michael Walrond, Senior Pastor at the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem
  • Celia Wickham, long-time Harlem community activist

The school’s planning group has worked to develop a number of partnerships with community-based institutions, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Schomburg is developing a unique local curriculum emphasizing immigration and migration with a lens on Harlem, which has been a beacon to immigrant and ethnic groups since 1870.

“One foundation of our model is creating diverse, inclusive schools that expose students of all backgrounds to the Hebrew language and build bridges of understanding,” Berman said. “We are incredibly proud of the success we have had with HLA in Brooklyn, which is 55 percent white and 45 percent minority, making it one of the most integrated public schools in New York City. And we are committed to building on that success at Harlem Hebrew and bringing together students from diverse communities in this school district.”


The Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC) was created by the Areivim Philanthropic Group in 2009 to promote the development and sustainability of the Hebrew charter school movement by supporting a network of excellent schools that serve diverse populations of students, foster strong inter-personal relationships, advance overall academic and social/emotional well-being, and promote high levels of Hebrew language proficiency and understanding of the culture and history of Israel and its immigrant communities.

HCSC works with planning teams and existing charter schools across the country to:

  • Build and increase the capacity for designing new, high quality Hebrew language charter schools
  • Provide resources for established schools
  • Grow a field of educators prepared to lead Hebrew language charter schools and the movement
  • Promote and support a network of high quality Hebrew language charter schools
  • Support local communities to develop Hebrew language charter schools and to maximally benefit from their impact on children and families

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