Fourteen months ago, I joined the Hebrew Charter School Center as its first CEO and president. During that time, I have been asked versions of the following questions dozens if not hundreds of times.

Question #1: “Hebrew charter schools?  How can a public charter school be a religious school?”

Answer: It can’t and it isn’t.

The Hebrew Charter School Center’s network schools are public, nonsectarian, and serve students from a wide array of religious and non-religious backgrounds.

In a way, the confusion is understandable. Hebrew is a language that is closely associated with Judaism and the Jewish people. At the same time, Modern Hebrew (which we teach in our schools) is a secular language spoken daily by millions of people. Our Modern Hebrew dual language public charter schools are not Jewish religious schools. New York City’s Greek dual language public charter school is not a Greek Orthodox religious school, French dual language public schools are not Catholic schools, and the growing number of Mandarin dual language public schools are not Buddhist religious schools.

Question #2: “Hebrew charter schools? So those are just for Jewish kids, right?”

Answer: Wrong – our schools are for everyone, and serve as models of integration and diversity.

In many of our country’s school districts, including its largest (New York City) racial and economic isolation is a fact in the majority of public district schools. And in many district schools that appear to be integrated based on their total school enrollment, they are segregated at a classroom level, with significant racial and economic disparities in student assignment to gifted classes and self-contained special education classes. By contrast, the schools in the Hebrew Charter School Center’s network, including both of our schools in New York City, explicitly make racial and economic integration a goal – and have succeeded in creating integrated school environments. By way of example, Harlem Hebrew’s demographics are: 36% black, 20% Latino, 40% white, 4% multiracial, 53% students eligible for free/reduced price lunch, 21% students with special needs, and 12% English language learners. Our network, in turn, is a member of the National Coalition for Diverse Charter Schools ( – a growing movement that sees charter schools not only as potential hubs of excellence and innovation but as a powerful means of creating integrated schools in places where segregation persists.

Of course, the best way to set the record straight about our work is to see our it in action. To arrange a visit to one of our network schools in Harlem, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Washington DC, Los Angeles, or San Diego, please email us at

Jon Rosenberg President & CEO


When I joined the team here last January as the Hebrew Charter School Center’s first President & CEO, I knew we had an incredibly strong foundation on which to build.  In the few short years since we began building this American network of dual-language Hebrew charter schools, the cumulative progress made is hard to ignore:
  • 1,253 children are now learning in our six schools across the country, in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Our schools are wonderfully diverse, with students from a wide array of racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Hundreds of children are speaking, reading, and writing Modern Hebrew with great proficiency – something that always brings smiles of delight to the faces of native Hebrew speakers who visit our schools.
  • Our students’ academic performance continues to be very strong, as shown in the most recent round of state tests in NY and NJ.
  • 90 new HCSC alumni – our very first graduating classes from Hebrew Language Academy and Hatikvah – are now in middle schools, and we are working to stay closely connected to them as they grow into ambassadors for the HCSC mission.

During the course of 2014, we helped open Lashon Academy in Los Angeles, and began working with Agamim Academy in Minneapolis, which will open in 2015.  We have added three terrific new Board members: Simone Friedman, Caroline Greenwald and Adam Smolyar. We also had quite a year in fundraising:  our March Aladdin and September “Autumnfest” events were great successes, together raising more than $800,000.  (For a fuller description of our work, please check out our new President’s Report) 

All of us here look with genuine pride at the work that is done by our teachers and school leaders every day in Brooklyn, in Harlem, in DC, in San Diego, in East Brunswick, and in Los Angeles.  I am confident that we will make more contributions in the years to come, as we become an increasingly important presence in the worlds of dual-language instruction, diverse schooling, Israel and global studies, and charter schools.

Jon Rosenberg, President & CEO


The new admissions lotteries are now complete for the 2014-15 school year. Congratulations to all the children accepted to HCSC schools!  Because there isn’t space for all the children whose families would like their kids to attend our schools, we have waiting lists – which are growing each year.  We wish we had enough seats to serve all of these interested students and families, but are truly grateful for their interest and the demand it represents for the great programs provided by our network of schools.

In 2014-15, our schools will include Hebrew Language Academy in Brooklyn (serving grades K-5); Hatikvah International Academy in East Brunswick, N.J. (serving grades K-5); Harlem Hebrew (serving grades K-2); Sela Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. (serving grades Pre-K-2); Kavod Elementary in San Diego (serving grades K-3); and Lashon Academy in Los Angeles (serving grades K-2). Across these schools, we received 1,894 applications for 583 available spaces.

Not only is there great demand for our schools, but they continue to attract a truly global diversity of students and families.  In our five currently operating schools, the parents of our students come from 78 different nations, and more than 25 different languages are spoken in our students’ homes.  We celebrate this diversity every day.

With these new admissions, nearly 1,300 students will be enrolled in our network of schools during 2014-15, representing a 50 percent increase over the current school year.  And we look forward to even greater growth – and amazing student outcomes – in the years ahead.

Jon Rosenberg

President and CEO, HCSC