The impending closing of Reuben Gittleman Hebrew Day School in New City, a long-standing local school, has become the driving force behind the building of a new school in the community, Rockland Jewish Academy.
After more than 40 years, Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School in New City announced earlier this year that it will close its doors in June due to dropping enrollment numbers. In response, concerned community members are getting together to support the creation of another school to take its place: Rockland Jewish Academy.
Several committees have formed with the goal to open Rockland Jewish Academy in September, catering to kids in preschool through fifth grade. The proposed site is the JCC Rockland campus in West Nyack.
“Rockland Jewish Academy provides an alternative to public education for those desiring a school that provides both general and Jewish education,” says Andy Blau, a father of two who went through schooling at Reuben Gittleman and is now part of the marketing and public relations committee for the new school. Blau says RJA will be a pluralist and independent Jewish day school. “Most significantly, it is located in the community, built by the community, and with strong support from the community.”
The new Rockland Jewish Academy is slated to open this September at the JCC Rockland Campus.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint why enrollment at Gittelman fell, Blau says that according to The Jewish Daily Forward, Conservative Jewish day schools nationwide have seen a 35 percent drop in enrollment over the past decade. Blau also suggests that the number of young families moving to Rockland has dropped since the recession.
The Rockland Jewish Academy plans to hire teachers at every grade level for both general and Judaic studies as well as specialists in art, music, gym, science, and math. The average class size is expected to be about 15 students.
Currently, parents of more than 90 students in the community have expressed serious interest in the creation and completion of the school, while more than 25 parents are directly involved in more than 10 committees to prepare for the projected opening in September.
To learn more about Rockland Jewish Academy, to donate, or to get involved in the project, visit rocklandjewishacademy.org or email [email protected].