Hebrew charter school to open in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Julie Wiener

The student body at the Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in New York is approximately 40 percent white, 40 percent black and 20 percent. (Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School)

Students at the Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in New York City, which opened in August 2013. (Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School)

(JTA) — A new Hebrew charter school is opening in a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul in September.

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According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Agamim Classical Academy in Hopkins, Minn., will be the first public school in the United States to offer a focus on both the Hebrew language and Classical instruction, a pedagogical approach “that emphasizes grammar, rhetoric and logic.”

It also will be the first Hebrew charter school to open in the Midwest. Hebrew charter schools are tuition-free and open to all, but they teach Hebrew language and, in many cases, also offer instruction about Jewish history and culture.

There are currently 12 Hebrew charter schools in five states and Washington, D.C., the first of which — Ben Gamla Charter School Hollywood — opened in Florida in 2007. Agamim will be the seventh Hebrew charter school affiliated with the New York-based Hebrew Charter School Center, which opened its first school in Brooklyn in 2009 and is funded in large part by Birthright Israel co-founder Michael Steinhardt.

Agamim will open with kindergarten through third grade classes, eventually continuing through eighth grade. Its principal, Miranda Morton, told the Star Tribune the Classical approach dovetails “extraordinarily well” with Hebrew.

Hebrew Charter School Center CEO and President Jon Rosenberg agreed.

“The Hebrew language requires a lot of rigor,” he said. “It requires kids to learn a new code, a new language. The idea that Classical education requires a lot of rigor makes a good fit with Hebrew, which also has a high, but appropriate level of complexity.”