L.A., San Antonio To Get Hebrew Charter Schools


Two more Hebrew charter schools recently won approval to open in the United States.

This week the Los Angeles Unified School District Board formally approved Lashon Academy Charter School, which will be located in Van Nuys. The school plans to launch with 290 students in grades K-2 and eventually expand through sixth grade; organizers have not yet decided whether to open this year or in 2014.

Lashon, Hebrew for “tongue” or “language” is one of six approved schools backed by the Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC), a group funded by a partnership of Jewish philanthropists that includes Michael Steinhardt and Harold Grinspoon.

Two HCSC schools — Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn and Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick, N.J. — are already in operation, collectively enrolling approximately 500 children. Three more will open this fall, in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and San Diego.

In November, the Texas Board of Education approved a charter for Ben Yehuda Academy, a San Antonio school that will replace the Eleanor Kolitz Academy, a pluralistic Jewish day school. Ben Yehuda, which will open in August with grades k-8, is not currently affiliated with a larger network of charter schools, but is working with Academica, a charter school management company that also serves the Ben Gamla charter school network in Florida. Ben Gamla, founded in 2007 by former Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.), operates five schools, serving almost 1,800 children.

Hebrew charter schools are tuition-free, publicly funded (but privately supplemented) schools that teach Hebrew; most also teach about Israeli culture and some secular aspects of Jewish culture. By law, they are open to children of all backgrounds and are prohibited from teaching or promoting religion.

Julie Wiener Julie.inthemix@gmail.com; @Julie_Wiener