Former Y to lease space for future Hebrew charter school

Former Y to lease space for future Hebrew charter school

Plans for facility on Campus for Jewish Life

The Hebrew-language Hatikvah International Academy Charter School has struck an agreement with the Campus for Jewish Life to lease space on its East Brunswick property for a permanent home for its facility.

The agreement was announced March 24 by Hativah founder and board member Yair Nezaria and CJL executive director Robin Kessler.

The state’s first Hebrew-language and -culture immersion school plans to open in September with classes in rented space behind the Trinity Presbyterian Church on Cranbury Road for students in grades K-2. It will add 44 students annually as it gradually goes up to eighth grade.

Because it is considered a public school, Hatikvah is open to all students and is forbidden from teaching religion.

“We have had a wonderful experience with Trinity Presbyterian Church and the CJL so far, and we are very excited that Hatikvah is already building bridges with a variety of local community groups,” said Nezaria. “We also anticipate that all of the funding for the construction of our new school will come from private donors who are very passionate about our mission. The state does not provide funding for this purpose, and we would not want taxpayers to pay for this either.”

The Campus for Jewish Life, formerly the YM-YWHA of Raritan Valley in Highland Park, operates a swim club and day camp at the 10.5-acre site, which includes basketball and tennis courts, baseball fields, and playground. It is currently engaged in a fund-raising campaign to build a Jewish community center on the property.

“Having the Hatikvah school built on the CJL grounds will undoubtedly be a wonderful addition to our community,” said CJL president Amanda Shechter.

Nezaria said the school hopes to begin construction on the Dutch Road site as soon as possible. The school filled more than half of its 108 slots during its first lottery on Jan. 14. It plans to hold a second lottery on March 31.

The state has approved the charter pending Hatikvah organizers’ meeting all requirements for curriculum and staffing and obtaining a suitable facility. Final approval is expected around June.

“We’re right on track in meeting all requirements,” said Nezaria.

By law, enrollment is open to children of all cultures and ethnicities, with first choice given to East Brunswick residents. If the school fails to fill all its slots, it may open admission to residents outside the township. A March 21 open house drew about 50 students and 100 parents.

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