Bergen Hebrew Charter Won’t Open After All


For the second year in a row, a Hebrew charter school in Bergen County, N.J., has failed to gain final state approval just weeks before its scheduled opening.

According to Teaneck Patch, Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf wrote in a letter Monday to Shalom Academy founder Raphael Bachrach that the school cannot open because it failed to provide various required documents, including a certificate of occupancy for educational use and a “sanitary inspection report with satisfactory rating.”

Bachrach and his board of trustees “have not only failed to meet the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements to gain final approval, but have also not demonstrated overall leadership and organization capacity,” Cerf’s letter continued.

Bachrach did not respond to an interview request from The Jewish Week. The school’s website appears not to have been updated for several months.

When it began registering Englewood and Teaneck students in grades K-8 last spring, Shalom Academy created a stir in the heavily Orthodox local community, with many institutional leaders worrying the tuition-free school would hurt enrollment at yeshivas and day schools. It also attracted the ire of Englewood and Teaneck public school officials, concerned that it would pull funds from their budgets.

Many families initially interested in Shalom Academy grew disenchanted last summer when the school offered minimal information to parents, and then, in July, announced it would not open.

Other Hebrew charter schools in the United States are faring better: seven are operating (in New Jersey, New York, Florida and California) and two more are slated to open this fall.