For the past year, I’ve been part of a group of residents here in my own little town, Highland Park, NJ, who have been fighting the opening of a Hebrew Language (read: taxpayer funded free Jewish education) charter school.
I was part of what we called our “documentation committee,” a committee formed at one of many meetings held to discuss how we were going to stop this school, which is overwhelmingly opposed by the residents of our town. What our committee did was to thoroughly examine the school’s charter application, and what we found can only be described as a big fat pack of lies. The application claimed the support of people who did not support the school, misrepresented where people lived, claimed to have a location for the school that they did not have, and invented a completely ludicrous secular reason that the school was necessary — that the teaching of Hebrew is vital to America’s national interests because America does business with Israel (although the official business language of Israel is English).
Unbelievably, this school, although already rejected by our state three times, has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the federal government, and may still open, as the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Rejected 3 Times, School May Still Open Soon, and With a Grant, Too
“In the last couple of years, Sharon Akman, a real estate agent, applied to the state of New Jersey three times to open a new charter school in the Highland Park area, to be called Tikun Olam Hebrew Language Charter High School.
“Each time, she was rejected.
“Then on Oct. 6, one week after the state’s most recent rejection, the United States Education Department announced that it had approved a $600,000 grant to finance Ms. Akman’s proposed charter.
“It would have taken federal officials just a few phone calls to determine that there were many good reasons for the state to have rejected Ms. Akman’s applications.
“For one thing, they have been full of misrepresentations.
“Ms. Akman, who declined to comment for this column, writes that the charter school would be located in St. Mary of Mount Virgin Church in New Brunswick, even though the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, Paul G. Bootkoski, has repeatedly said that the building is not available.”
For my part on our documentation committee, I did exactly what anyone familiar with my other work would expect me to do — I checked out the sources cited by the school’s founders to support their ridiculous ‘teaching Hebrew is vital to our national interests’ claim. And what I found, of course, was that they had misquoted and misrepresented the sources they cited.
This was my debunking of those lies, which will give you an idea of just how deceptive these Liars For Yahweh are being in their attempt to get their school approved:
As soon as I get the files together, I’ll be posting our committee’s full report, containing, among other things, all of the letters from the people who were lied about in the school’s application stating that they did not support the school as the application claimed, and the letter from the Diocese of Metuchen stating that the school did not have the location it claimed to have secured (having a location secured is a prerequisite for approval).
One of the letters in the report we prepared was written to New Jersey’s acting Education Commissioner by Highland Park Rabbi Steven Miodownik, who is not being fooled one bit about the real motives of the charter school’s founders.
From the rabbi’s letter:
“Proponents of the Hebrew language charter school have carefully placed a fig leaf over their agenda of forcing the state to fund their ‘free’ alternative to private Jewish education, but it is not the job of the State of New Jersey to provide religious instruction for its children; that must be left up to our excellent private schools.”
The January 17 date for final decision on the current application of the Tikun Olam charter school is looming, so if you feel so inclined, please make your voice heard by visiting www.speakuphp.org for contact information and sample letters for both the New Jersey Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.