The founder of a new public school that teaches Hebrew in Hollywood, Florida, is planning to bring his controversial idea to New York City. Former congressman Peter Deutsch (pictured) says that demand for space at the Ben Gamla Charter School, which opens at the end of August, has been much stronger than he expected, with parents reportedly lining up for hours to enroll their kids. Students at Ben Gamla take one class in the Hebrew language and at least one non-language course that is taught in both English and Hebrew. Jewish history and culture are also part of the curriculum. Deutsch said that he wants to open a similar school here within the next two years.
But critics worry that the Florida school is already overstepping the line between church and state. Evidently one Hebrew textbook the school considered included a whole slew of non-Kosher sentences including ‘Our Holy Torah is dear to us,’ ‘God created man on Friday’ and ‘Man is redeemed from his sins through repentance’. That doesn’t sound much like secular speech to us. Even members of Florida’s Jewish community, including leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Broward, have expressed reservations. Michael Meyers, the executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, told the Sun that he would oppose any school that caters to only one population, arguing that public schools are intended to bring kids of different backgrounds together. Nonetheless, an Arabic-language public school is already slated to open in Brooklyn this September. We bet “Allahu Akbar min kulli shay” is nowhere to be found in their curriculum.