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There were 359 students (18.8% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 114 (6.0% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
Since the days of the Revolution, a one-room stone schoolhouse had stood on a grassy area known as the Common, located close to the present intersection of South Orange Avenue and Academy Street in Maplewood.
The State itself began to contribute money in 1830, and in 1846 every township was required to raise as much money each year for schools as the State itself contributed.
The last tuition assessment for residents occurred in 1861, and thereafter the Columbia School was entirely supported by public taxation.
Joseph’s story shows us that no matter what things looked like yesterday, today can be different. Gayle and I drew inspiration from the stories we read of ministers, priests and others who had traveled from great spiritual distances to become Orthodox Jews.
I thought to myself involuntarily, Yes, Joseph’s whole world transformed, as Rabbi Turtletaub would say, ‘in the blink of an eye.’ And at that moment, I let go. Gayle began to learn Hebrew and take classes at the Orthodox synagogue, which was becoming her spiritual home.
The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary Secondary Schools since 1928.
As of the 2014-15 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,913 students and 146.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.1:1.
And then one October Sunday morning, the moment finally arrived.
While waiting just outside the church’s sanctuary for the service to begin, a friend of mine in the choir leaned over and said, “So tell me, what’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in a place like this? My mind turned to a woman in Gayle’s church, married to a Jew. Gayle in church I stood up and took a few steps from the bench, now a bit defiant. You’re the One who brought Orthodox Jews in my path, just at the time we were in the midst of adopting our son. That had been when the chasm had started to widen, when our hours of talking had gotten us far but not far enough, and we needed to find someone who might help us figure it all out. Ever since the rabbi had told me “it won’t work,” I had stayed away from his synagogue.
You’re the One who put the idea in Gayle’s mind that we’d raise our son Jewish even as she continued directing the music for a church. Rabbi Turtletaub met with each of us together, and then privately. Then one Shabbat morning, for some reason, I felt I wanted to go. And sitting among hundreds of people, the rabbi’s words seemed tailored just for me. But like pieces of a puzzle, everything started to come together.
Ok, so she was more than simply “not Jewish.” When we met, Gayle was quite the devout Christian, a full-time Christian in fact.
It didn’t matter that she was passionately committed to the church while I had a lukewarm relationship with Judaism. Gayle growing up on the farm I sat on a bench outside the synagogue, trying to collect my thoughts. And she was more than willing to raise our son Jewish. I had already been going to classes at Aish for a year, which happened to be just down the street from the synagogue whose rabbi had made things sound hopeless.
One day, she realized that her only attachment to the church was performing music there.