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In the fall of 1966, two Morristown families looking for quality Jewish education for their own children spawned the idea for a day school for Morris County. These families, the Wertheimers and the Turners, joined with other dedicated families, area rabbis, and Jewish leaders to build support for creating a new school. The school would be a community day school, meaning that it would welcome families from all branches of Judaism. To make this point clear, the founders gave the school a “parve” name: the Hebrew Academy of Morris County. With little experience or money, but a lot of hard work and tremendous commitment, the founding families’ vision became a reality. In September, 1967, the Hebrew Academy of Morris County opened its doors with 18 children in classrooms at the Morristown Jewish Center in Morristown.
Over the next decade, the Hebrew Academy led an itinerant existence, moving from the Morristown Jewish Center to the Lake Hiawatha Jewish Center, then to Sts. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Church in Boonton, and then to Temple Shalom in Succassunna. By the mid-1970s, it was clear that for the school to survive and thrive, it needed a home of its own.
School leaders secured a site on Dover Chester Road in Randolph. With strong support from many families, the school was able to construct a new building in time for the school opening in September, 1980. The building is named in memory of Nathan Bohrer and Abraham Kaufman, the fathers of the lead donors for the building project, Esther Bohrer and Bernard Bohrer z”l.
The school has continued to grow and expand at the Randolph campus. In 1993, the Hebrew Academy dedicated a new wing in memory of Beatsy Wertheimer, one of the school’s founders. In the last few years, thanks to extraordinary support from Hebrew Academy families and friends, the school has added a learning resource center, a new administrative wing and beautiful sanctuary, an expanded library, and expanded programming in the computer science, the arts, and other areas. The middle school has a computer laptop program and there are SmartBoards in every classroom, Kindergarten through eighth grade.
In 2003-04, the Hebrew Academy celebrated its Double Chai (36-year) anniversary. To commemorate this special milestone, the school honored its founders: Morton Wertheimer, Alvin Turner z”l, Beatsy Wertheimer z”l, and Michael Rubenstein z”l. The plaques created for the founders included these famous words from Theodore Herzl: “If you will it, it is no dream.”
In 2006 the school won the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for Academic Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education. The Blue Ribbon program, part of the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act, rewards public and private schools that are either academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. The HAMC received Blue Ribbon status based on extraordinarily high academic achievement in math and language arts and is one of only 19 Jewish Day schools to ever receive the Blue Ribbon honor.
In 2007 the school embarked on the rigorous process of becoming accredited, and in 2009 the HAMC was officially accredited by the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.
In 2009, after more than a year of intensely reviewing the admissions policy of the school and in order to best align the policy with the mission of the school, to educate all Jewish children of our community, the Board approved a new admissions policy that accepts children who are considered Jewish by the standards of the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements in the United States. As part of this revision, the current curriculum and religious/social policies outlined in the school handbook will not change. This is an exciting change that allows the school to focus on educating and developing knowledgeable and committed Jewish students.
HAMC offers excellent secular studies as well as a rich and challenging Judaic curriculum to some 240 children, aged 18 months through eighth grade. Hebrew Academy boasts more than 360 alumni, and hundreds of others who have attended the preschool or other grades. Our graduates have excelled at top high schools and colleges.
The school has enriched the lives of hundreds of families, drawing them closer to their Jewish heritage, and drawing many families together in life-long friendships. The Hebrew Academy has become an anchor for Jewish Learning and Life in Morris and Sussex counties.