Charlottesville – A Special Message from Our CEO Jon Rosenberg

Dear members of the Hebrew Public community,

Most of us have been struggling to process what has been happening in our country in the days since the protests and violence in Charlottesville.  Personally, I have struggled for a week now to put pen to paper, knowing that it is still summer vacation for our students, and that our teachers do not return to work until today.  Among other things, I am keenly aware that it is rarely appropriate for a public school organization’s leader to make what might be considered political statements.

I don’t believe, however, that what I am about to say is a political statement so much as a moral one.  A society, a government, a community, and a public school can reflect many divergent ideas.  Schools, even for young children, should be places that encourage discourse and debate.

But there should be no debate about the merits of hatred.  There should be no debate, no endorsement, and no tolerance for beliefs that claim superiority of one race or ethnicity or religion over others.  Creating room for different views is not the same as creating room for the expressions of hatred, of racism, of anti-Semitism, of xenophobia that have been on increasing display in our country.

Hebrew Public’s schools are “diverse-by-design.”  They are schools for everyone – from every background.  The community we try to create is one in which students are exposed to difference and taught to appreciate it.  It is one in which diversity of language, culture and religion are celebrated.  We strive to teach empathy and understanding, developing in our students skills of communication and partnership that are keys to the future.

We will stick to our mission, to our commitments to both academic excellence and global citizenship.  We will reinforce our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all of our students, families, and staff members.

When I visit our schools, I see a hoped-for future.  Charlottesville and its aftermath show us that this future is not guaranteed – that it requires vigilance, effort, and moral courage to attain.  We will do everything we can to ensure that all of the children in our care reach that future successfully and together.


**This message is also available in Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and Creole.


Teaching English in Israel

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Jared Waters and students in Israel – Courtesy of Yediot Israel.

Harlem Hebrew teacher Jared Waters teaching English in Israel.

This summer Harlem Hebrew teacher first grade teacher, Jared Waters, taught English immersion classes in Israeli town, Kiryat Malachi as a Talma teaching fellow. Recently, Jared’s work with the program was featured in major news outlet, Yediot Israel.

Talma is a summer English immersion program for Israeli elementary school children. The program brings together volunteer US based teachers and Israeli teachers who co-teach each class. Talma allows American teachers to experience Israel while providing English classes for children from low-income neighborhoods.

Jared found out about the program from Harlem Hebrew head of school, Lindsay Malanga, who encouraged him to join. After speaking with other teachers from the school who had also been a part of the program, he decided to join.

“I wanted to see what it would be like to teach in Israel, because at my school I work with an Israeli teacher,” Jared told Yediot news.

For Jared and other teachers from the Hebrew Public network who participate in the program, they have the unique advantage of being immersed in the culture that their school teaches.

However, Jared is no stranger to living in a foreign country or being immersed in different cultures. A self-proclaimed “war baby”, he was born in Missouri but grew up on a US military base in the Netherlands where his dad worked as a NATO colonel. His family has also lived in other countries such as, South Korea, Japan and Morocco.

“Every place we went to, I learned the culture and tried to assimilate, and that is what I am now doing, being in Israel,” Jared told Yediot news.

After just a year at Harlem Hebrew and with no prior experience with Hebrew, he is now learning and speaking Hebrew and shares how just a month after he started, his first graders – also new to the language – are able to converse with him in Hebrew. Jared also speaks Dutch and German.

Over the summer Jared taught 5th graders in Israel. While he finds it more challenging to teach 5th graders who are more mature and strong willed, he says the classroom experience in Israel isn’t very different from the team teaching model used at Harlem Hebrew to immerse students in the language. In fact, he shares that he is adjusting very well in Israel, using the same techniques there as he uses in his Harlem Hebrew classroom.

Prior to joining Harlem Hebrew, Jared spent four years as a kindergarten teacher in Tampa, Florida. But being the free spirit that he is, after years of feeling stuck in a routine, he got in his car and drove to New York.

“I moved here on complete faith and all the pieces just fell into place,” Jared shared in an earlier interview with Hebrew Public. He said on arriving in Harlem a year ago, within a day he found an apartment and within a week, he landed his position at Harlem Hebrew.

“I’m just trying to see the world while I can,” Jared shared. “But more importantly I enjoy seeing the future generation grow, with a little help from me on the way.”

View Yediot Israel article in Hebrew here.

View Q&A with Jared here.


By Keciah Bailey

Inside the Classroom: Q&A with Harlem Hebrew Teacher, Jared Waters

Jared profileFirst grade teacher Jared Waters has just completed his first year at Harlem Hebrew and is spending the summer in Israel teaching English. During his first year, he also facilitated Hebrew Public’s young adult volunteer program, YALLA, where middle school and high school students volunteer monthly in his first grade class. Jared grew up in the Netherlands on a US military base and has lived in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Morocco. He has over six years’ experience as an elementary school teacher and graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary school education. Check out our Q&A with Jared below!

Q: What made you decide to become a teacher?

A: Sometimes I feel like it was divine intervention for me to start teaching. All my summer jobs revolved around tutoring and working in after school programs. For me becoming a teacher was similar to Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi (Star Wars). Luke always admired the Jedi’s and their abilities from within the force but when he met the right mentor, Oby Won, his destiny was established. Being a teacher was always in me but it took the people – professors, mentors, family – along the way that helped me see it.

Q: Describe your first teaching experience and how it shapes your approach today?

A: My first teaching experience was in Seffner, Florida at title one school (large low income population) called W.E. Phillips Academy Learning Center. Just think about whatever could go wrong in your first year – everything, went wrong!

The school lost funding and was closing down. We did not have enough text-books, no copy machine, and supplies. We were teaching in small trailers but the trailers had great air condition for the Florida heat. The first week of school, my mentor/teacher quit, and everyone with a great amount of experience left so I was all alone. That year of teaching shaped me to be the teacher I am today, because what’s the worst that could happen to me? We had the lowest performing students in the district and most came from immigrant families so the language barrier at times was really difficult. I experienced being at the bottom of the barrel. So everything that happens to me, I have learned to accept it and move forward.

I realized back then that despite the circumstances as a teacher, the students should not feel the effects of the school. I started reading Harry Wong’s book, “The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher” and the book started to come to life in my classroom. I also adopted the philosophy of professor and author, Linda Albert, by making my classroom a learning environment, despite the school literally closing down daily. Those experiences shaped me to the teacher, I am today as it taught me to cherish all the good things and celebrate the little things a student accomplishes. If man has 100,000 thousand pennies it still is a 1,000 dollars –  it may take us a longer time to count to a thousand dollars by pennies but the value is still the same. Similar to being in the classroom – in some students you can see growth immediately (counting by $100 bills), and for some others it may take while (counting by pennies) but in the end we all have the same value as a person.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

A: The hardest part of my job right now, is making sure I catch the correct train. There have been many countless times, where I was headed uptown towards the Bronx instead of downtown toward Harlem.  However, I am getting better.

Teaching at Harlem Hebrew has been more joy than hardship because of the team atmosphere with both administration, faculty, and my first grade team. This school is the 1996 NBA champions the Chicago Bulls, and I am a young Steve Kerr with the high top fade that’s ready to come off the bench and score.

Q: How do you get to know your students and build relationships with them?_DSC4982

A: I think the best way to get to know your student is by asking questions. Find out what their likes and dislikes are and find out what TV shows and songs they like. I think the more you have in common with someone, the more you can relate to them and use a common language to communicate – not just academics – but in life. Another way is by creating a learning yet fun environment in the classroom. I make sure every year that everyone’s voice is heard and their opinion matters.  I call it “camouflage learning” when sometimes students don’t realize they are learning because learning is happening all around them.

Also, understanding the Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences. Which is comprehending that everyone learns differently and we have to find ways to connect with their learning styles.

Q: Tell us about a memorable time (good or bad) when a student or family influenced your perspective or approach?

A: The most memorable time was when I had a student who is now deceased. She was in stage four of cancer, and she was a huge “Frozen” fan. She loved Frozen dolls, make up, and dresses.

When the cancer started to get worse, she went from having perfect attendance to barley showing up to school and we would video chat with her. Her birthday was during the Christmas break, and she passed away in April. However, she wanted to have a birthday party and she wanted her whole class to attend, which was really hard because Christmas is a really big holiday in the south and all the students were leaving for the break.

I gave my word that I would attend and when I got to the party – kid you not – my whole class was there and we had the best Frozen-themed party! That’s when I knew that teaching doesn’t just happen in school from 7am to 4pm. School affects the way we will live our lives for both student and teacher. To see other families give up their own personal family time to spend it with their child classmate, was better than any lesson, spelling test, or trips to the treasure box that I could offer.

That experienced taught me that school isn’t just for learning but we are also making a life time worth of memories.

Q: Fill in the blank:  I can’t start my day without___________________.

A: A prayer to the man upstairs and I listen to MC Hammer’s “2 Legit to Quit”!


By Keciah Bailey