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Rockland Board of Rabbis Voices Support for Planned Rockland Jewish Academy

Outreach expanding for prospective students


The Rockland Board of Rabbis issued a letter of support for the planned Rockland Jewish Academy, which is being proposed to fill the gap after the l closes in June.  , which is the county’s only Conservative Day School, is shutting its doors because of steadily declining enrollment. The Rockland Jewish Academy would be an independent Jewish day school and would offer classes for students from prekindergarten through fifth grade.

Rabbi Daniel Pernick of Beth Am Temple in Pearl River is the president of the Rockland Board of Rabbis.  He said there are solid reasons to support the planned school. 

“It is a new school and anything new could use the support,” he said. “More importantly, it is a community school.”

Rabbi Pernick said the Gittelman school which is located in New City, was affiliated with Conservative Judaism and the proposed school would be a community school teaching Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox points of view.

A portion of the Board of Rabbi’s letter further emphasizes Rabbi Pernick’s statement.

The planned Rockland Jewish Academy (RJA) promises to offer excellence in Judaic and general education for children from a wide spectrum of Jewish homes – Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and secular. RJA will be our community school, catering to our children, relying on our own community’s leadership to shape its mission.

Andy Blau, media coordinator for the Rockland Jewish Academy, said the support from the Board is important.

“We are extremely pleased with the support from the Rockland Board of Rabbis and several of the Rabbis have joined the committee in an advisory role to help us guide the school,” Blau explained.

Four rabbis have joined the school’s working committee, one Reform and three Conservative.

Since the announcement of Gittelman’s closing on January 10 and the subsequent news that efforts were underway for the Academy, volunteers have been reaching out to the community to gauge enrollment interest.  The proposed school would be established on the Jewish Community Campus in West Nyack. Last week, two parlor meeting were held for parents to learn and ask questions about the school which would be under the supervision of Dr. Elliot Spiegel and the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. A newsletter has been emailed to the parents of prosective students. 

“We have received lots of positive response from the day school families and community and we are very close to the numbers we need to become a viable community school,” Blau said.  “In fact, the parents of more than 90 prospective students have expressed interest in applying to the school for September 2012. We remain confident that we will reach the required size by mid-February.” 

Blau said the outreach is expanding and planning committee members will be manning a booth on Jan. 29 at the Rockland Jewish Federation's Super Sunday and Family Fun Day where members of the planning committee will discuss many aspects of the RJA with prospective parents. The booth will be manned from 9:30 a.m. till 4 p.m. at the Jewish Community Campus, 450 West Nyack Road, West Nyack. The school's Planning Committee meets on Monday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. also at the JCC and new volunteers are welcome to attend.

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community of Rockland County,

The Rockland County Board of Rabbis expresses sadness that the Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School is closing in June after forty years of educating students, creating community, and standing as a beacon of Jewish education. Thousands of Rockland students have learned Judaic and general studies in a warm, nurturing environment under the careful guidance of dedicated teachers and principals.

Jewish families educate their children in a variety of ways including afternoon religious schools, day schools and yeshivas. We believe that our diverse Jewish community needs to maintain all of these options to remain vibrant.

Thankfully, a group of concerned parents has made significant progress toward forming a new community Jewish day school to be located at the Rockland Jewish Community Campus. The planned Rockland Jewish Academy (RJA) promises to offer excellence in Judaic and general education for children from a wide spectrum of Jewish homes – Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and secular. RJA will be our community school, catering to our children, relying on our own community’s leadership to shape its mission. RJA will benefit from initial oversight by the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, one of the most successful day schools in the country, with direct involvement of Dr. Elliot Spiegel, Headmaster. Consistent with the trend many new schools are following, RJA will function as an independent Jewish day school, not affiliated with a specific denomination.

We wholeheartedly support the Rockland Jewish Academy and strong, meaningful Jewish education for all families, for all children. We believe that broad community support of RJA is critical to our Jewish future in this county. We welcome a discussion about the merits of the Jewish day school option for families and encourage exploration and consideration of this new school. More information is available at its web site, www.rocklandjewishacademy.org or through email, info@rocklandjewishacademy.org.

The Rockland County Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham, Congregation Sons of Israel, Nyack
Rabbi Brian Beal, Temple Beth Torah
Rabbi David Berkman, New City Jewish Center
Rabbinic Intern Dahlia Bernstein, Orangetown Jewish Center
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill, Orangetown Jewish Center, RCBR Vice President
Rabbi David Fass, Temple Beth Sholom
Rabbi Paul Kurland, Nanuet Hebrew Center
Rabbi Daniel Pernick, Beth Am Temple, RCBR President
Rabbi Jeremy Ruberg, New City Jewish Center
Rabbi Craig Scheff, Orangetown Jewish Center
Rabbi Reuven Stengel, Congregation Shaarei Israel
Rabbi Morris Zimbalist, Montebello Jewish Center

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