BROOKLYN NY 11210 Map
At the Hebrew Language Academy, children learn both Hebrew and English. Perhaps surprisingly, the school has attracted children of different religions and races.
As a publicly financed charter school, the academy is formally a secular organization, not affiliated with Judaism. Children do not learn Jewish prayers, but they do learn Israeli dances and songs in Hebrew. All classes have two teachers, one who speak English and one who speaks Hebrew.
The school day is long, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The school year is 190 days, 10 days more than the typical public school. Children eat lunch (which is Kosher) in their rooms and don’t go outside for recess. The long day gives children more time to learn two languages, but a day without naps or breaks may be hard on some young children. Principal Laura Silver (she is called the head of school) told us that children may have a piece of fruit as a snack to keep their energy up. Children have physical education three times a week.
We visited the school in its 2nd temporary location since it opened in 2009–a former Catholic school building with spacious classrooms and plenty of light. The school plans to move again when its new building in Mill Basin is completed in 2014.
The Hebrew Language Academy has received backing from Michael Steinhardt, a retired hedge fund manager who has given away more than $200 million and is a supporter of Israel and Jewish causes, according to the New York Times.
While Jewish parents welcome the chance for their children to speak Hebrew, some non-Jewish parents do as well, the Times said. “I am a child of God, and you know the Bible was originally written in Hebrew,” the Times quoted a parent as saying. “When you understand it in Hebrew, it’s a totally different meaning. To be able for him to have that would be amazing.”
Special education: The school offers occupational therapy, speech therapy and special education teacher support services, as well as team-teaching classes with three teachers—one English, one Hebrew and one certified in special education. The school has a full-time social worker and a full-time special education coordinator.
Admissions: Lottery with preference to District 22. There are 75 seats for kindergarteners. Very few seats open in 1st or 2nd grade,and no child is accepted after the 2nd grade. Apply for the lottery at www.hlacharter.org. the school offers regular tours to prospective parents.(Eliana Mascio, February 2013)