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New York considers Hebrew charter school

NEW YORK (JTA) — New York State officials are considering whether to approve a Hebrew-language charter school backed by philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.

The state Board of Regents is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to approve the school’s application, whose lead applicant is Steinhardt’s daughter, Sara Berman, The New York Times reported. The state Department of Education has recommended that the Regents approve the application.

The school, which would be known as the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School, would provide daily Hebrew-language instruction and integrate Hebrew culture into other subjects. It would not, according to Berman, teach or promote Judaism.

Charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately managed, operate free of many of the restrictions placed on public schools and have been the source of controversy nationally in recent years.

An Arabic-language charter in Brooklyn has been the target of fierce criticism, much of it from Jewish sources, alleging that the school preaches a radical brand of Islam. In Florida, the country’s first Hebrew charter, the Ben Gamla Charter School, was briefly ordered to suspend Hebrew instruction soon after it opened because the local school board had concerns about religious influence in the curriculum.

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