To the editor:
While we share Mr. Neil’s enthusiasm for teaching Modern Hebrew in public schools (“Hebrew Charter Schools could Cut the Cost of Jewish Day School Education”), we must point out that all of our network’s schools are public schools and do not – and cannot – engage in religious instruction. Our schools are secular institutions whose full-day programs include a focus on the study of Israel and of Modern Hebrew.
While some students at Harlem Hebrew Language Academy (the school’s proper name) have been enrolled by their parents at a Chabad after-school program, Harlem Hebrew does not transport these students to the Chabad program. As importantly, the Chabad program does not start until after the end of a full day of public school. Indeed, students at our schools (in New York, New Jersey, California, Minnesota, and Washington, DC) often are enrolled by their parents in after-school programs. Some of these programs are Jewish programs, and some are not.
This distinction is important because Mr. Neil states elsewhere in his piece that he would like to see the U.S. allow children to leave school at 1 p.m., two hours before the normal end of school day (which is typically 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), to attend religious studies, and cites the Chabad program as an example of how that could work. Public schools – including our charter schools – cannot end their school day earlier as part of some kind of hybrid public/religious school experience.
We are hopeful that this factual clarification of Mr. Neil’s piece closely accompanies any further distribution of the piece.
CEO, Hebrew Public
New York City