Our story began in the fall of 1966, when 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: 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, HAMC 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 lead donors for the building project were Bernard Bohrer z”l and Esther Bohrer. In tribute to the Bohrer’s pivotal gift and in memory of Bernard and Esther’s fathers, the school adopted the name, Nathan Bohrer and Abraham Kaufman Hebrew Academy of Morris County.
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 HAMC 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 school has a continued to upgrade their technology yearly and there are SmartBoards in every classroom, Pre-school 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 National Blue Ribbon Award for Academic Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education. The National 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 National Bue Ribbon honor.
In 2007 the school embarked on the rigorous process of becoming accredited, and in 2009 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, which allows admission if one parent is Jewish. As part of this revision, the current curriculum and religious/social policies outlined in the school handbook did not change. This is an exciting change that allows the school to focus on educating and developing knowledgeable and committed Jewish students.
In 2014, through an incredibly generous $15 million challenge gift from the Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ (JCF) as well as the passion and commitment of the entire community, construction began on the school’s new building.
Now in 2015 our new state of the art, green facility will allow teachers to continue to provide an enhanced 21st century learning experience to our students. In honor of their continued generosity, in September 2014 we were thrilled to officially rename our school to Gottesman RTW Academy. This name reflects the commitment of one of our strongest leaders as well as our three founding families, Rubenstein, Turner and Wertheimer families.
GRTWA offers excellent secular studies as well as a rich and challenging Judaic curriculum to some 200 children, infants through eighth grade. Gottesman RTW Academy boasts more than 500 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 bringing many families together in life-long friendships and community. Gottesman RTW Academy has become an anchor for Jewish learning and life in Morris and Sussex counties.