The Gemara Sanhedrin says that if you teach Torah to children not your own, it is as if you gave birth to them. By the very act of teaching children, you become a third parent to them.
This is the animating principle of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy of Essex County, a Modern Orthodox school where the object each day is to transmit Torah knowledge to children by means of top-flight instruction in Judaic and general studies.
The school was founded in Newark in 1942. There followed a series of moves and merges that culminated in 1996, with the opening of Livingston campus where, today, there are about 850 students.
The school consists of a lower division through eighth grade and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School.
Broadly speaking, the goals are the same for each student: a “Torah lifestyle” with solid Jewish identity and values, esteem for the ideals of American society at its best, and fluency in Hebrew.
In the high school, Hebrew is the primary language of instruction. Judaic studies focus on the Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud and Jewish history. A strong guidance program encourages students to take post-graduate work in Israel.
Comprising the core of secular studies are history, literature, math, the sciences, computer science, and foreign language. There are also honors, accelerated, and AP courses and electives in science, social science, and fine arts.
Clubs and activities include debate, mock trial, model U.N., drama, music, creative writing, and sports.
There is also a summer camp program, Gesher, where children have sports, arts, and social and cultural activities.