In the fall of 1966, two Morristown families looking to give their children a Jewish day school education made their decision to create a school in Morris County. These pioneering families, Morty and Beatsy z"l Wertheimer and Charlotte and Alvin z"l Turner, joined with Michael Rubenstein z"l, other dedicated families, area rabbis, and Jewish leaders to build support for their concept. The school would be a community day school welcoming families from all branches of Judaism. With little experience or money but a lot of hard work, tremendous commitment, and a little bit of luck, the founding families' vision became a reality,
In September 1967, Hebrew Academy of Morris County opened its doors in the basement of Morristown Jewish Center with 18 students. Over the next decade, like our ancestors wandering in the desert, HAMC led an itinerant existence, moving from venue to venue, but by the mid-1970’s it was clear that to survive and thrive, the school needed a home of its own.
With the help of community leader Horace Bier z"l, HAMC founders secured a site on Dover Chester Road in Randolph. With strong and generous support from many families, including Ruth and Marty Welt, a new building was constructed in time for the September 1980 school year. The building was named in memory of Nathan Bohrer and Abraham Kaufman, the fathers of the lead donors for the building project, Esther z”l and Bernie Bohrer z"l. With the help of families like the Welts, the Bohrers, and many others, 101 families with 121 children were enrolled that year.
For many years the school flourished in its new home, and in the 1990s, a new classroom wing was built, a computer center, a new administrative wing, a beautiful new sanctuary, and an expanded library were added, all with the support of dedicated community leaders and families.
1998 marked the introduction of the Base Grant Program, conceived by the Gottesmans to assist middle income families afford the increasing cost of a private Jewish day school education. This tuition subvention program was the first of its kind in the United States and has subsequently become the model for similar programs around the country.
In 2003 the HAMC celebrated its Double Chai (36 year) anniversary. To commemorate this special milestone, the school honored its founders: Morty Wertheimer, Beatsy Wertheimer z"l, Alvin Turner z"l and Michael Rubenstein z"l. with a gala dinner to mark the momentous occasion.
In 2004, HAMC implemented its first five-year strategic plan which served as a touchstone to organize parents, administration, and the board around academic, financial, enrollment, and community goals and objectives. With great momentum and leadership from all of the schools’ lay leaders, tremendous progress and growth was achieved in a relatively short time frame.
In 2006 the school achieved National Blue Ribbon status for academic excellence, formally recognizing the school for its academic program and supremely talented and dedicated teachers. That same year Paula and Jerry Gottesman made an incredibly generous gift by funding the Base Grant with a $6 million endowment. The early childhood center was renamed the Lillie Brandt Early Childhood Center in 2008, a result of a generous gift from Ron and Lillie Brandt The school continued to focus on strong education and formalized its rigorous curriculum with accreditation by the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.
In 2009 the school joined RAVSAK, the Jewish Community Day School Network to support its mission as a true community day school open and accessible to all Jewish families.
With an aging infrastructure and the need for more room to support growing enrollment, the school’s board formed a long-range planning committee to explore options to meet these needs. In 2012, the school created a capital needs assessment committee led by Past President Arlyn Rayfield. In 2013 the Our Future Together Capital and Endowment Campaign was launched with Steve and Beena Levy serving as co-chairs. Later that year Steve and Beena purchased and gifted the yellow house on an acre adjacent to the school. In addition, a 4-acre property on the opposite side of the school was purchased to provide the land for the construction of a new school building and enlarged campus.
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.
The Our Future Together Campaign could not have been successful without the tremendous generosity and support of Paula and Jerry Gottesman. In their honor, and in recognition of the founding families – Rubenstein, Turner and Wertheimer – the school was renamed Gottesman RTW Academy, On March 2, 2014, the school celebrated the ground breaking for the construction of a new 34,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art green building.
In September 2015, the community celebrated the grand opening of the new building and campus as students ceremoniously marched with the Torah to kick off the new school year. The building, powered by more than 500 rooftop solar panels, is an award winning educational center with beautiful modern touches, contemporary classrooms and labs, a regulation sized gym, state-of-the-art stage, art and music rooms, community garden and indoor and outdoor facilities that engage students and prepares them to excel. Moreover, the school has retained that strong sense of family and individualized attention that has been a vital hallmark throughout the school’s history.
Today, the school offers a progressive education to over 200 students in nursery through eighth grade. More than 500 GRTWA alumni have excelled at the highest levels of public and private high schools and colleges and are engaged citizens who put into practice the values and ethics they have learned as Jewish day school graduates. The school has become the anchor of a vibrant Jewish community in Morris and Sussex counties.
Throughout the school's 50-year history, GRTWA has enriched the lives of hundreds of families, drawing them together in life-long friendships. It is the very definition of a community day school and gathering place for the Jewish community and serves as a model for how to develop and educate Jewish children in the 21st century.
Each generation that has been educated at our "Jewel on the Hill" has been fortunate to have inspired educators, lay leaders, and families who have propelled the school forward and helped safeguard this precious gem.