Best of Both Worlds: Center City Living & Affordable Jewish Education

I love Philadelphia! It is such an exciting and dynamic place to live and raise a family. Many young couples assume that as soon as their children reach school age, they should resign themselves to their fate and move to the suburbs.  This assumption, however, is no longer valid.

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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (JBHA) is making it possible for families that reach this juncture to make a different choice. With its outstanding academics, international student body, commitment to making private school affordable for middle income families, and convenient accessibility by Philadelphia bus and public transportation, JBHA provides the best of both worlds: Center City living and a stellar college preparatory private school education infused with timeless Jewish values and learning.

  • Originally founded in 1946 as Akiba Hebrew Academy, Barrack is an independent college preparatory day school for students in grades 6-12.
  • Located on a 35-acre campus in Bryn Mawr, PA, Barrack provides a rigorous dual curriculum of College preparatory and Jewish studies in modern facilities to students from all Jewish backgrounds.
  • The Barrack educational experience is diverse and international. Students from five continents are enrolled at JBHA, and English is often not their mother tongue.
  • Students who do not have a Jewish day school background thrive at Barrack. Hebrew is taught on all levels.
  • Barrack’s stellar academic program is complemented by timeless Jewish traditions and values. Commitments to repair the world and work for social justice are hallmarks of a Barrack education.
  • Barrack Middle School students enjoy a warm, welcoming nurturing environment and are inspired by talented and involved teachers to develop the intellectual and emotional skills that prepare them for a seamless transition to high school and for continued success.
  • Barrack 11th graders have a unique opportunity to study abroad for a trimester in Israel on the Alexander Muss Campus, strengthening their identity and forging strong ties with the land, language, people and culture.
  • Barrack students earn high SAT scores, and Barrack seniors are traditionally accepted to their first choice, top-tier colleges and universities.
  • Barrack offers a wide array of extracurricular programs, including award-winning art, drama and music programs; over 54 Clubs; student publications, science, robotics and engineering electives, and student government/leadership opportunities.
  • Barrack fields 18 sports teams, including squash, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, basketball, softball, soccer, swimming and track and field. This year the Girls’ lacrosse, tennis and soccer teams won championships.
  • Over 2, 600 Akiba-Barrack alumni play leading roles in all walks of life at home and around the world.

Affordability: Barrack is committed to middle income affordability, and has generous scholarship funds available for this purpose. The application process is welcoming and respectful.

Convenient Transportation: It is very convenient to commute from Center City Philadelphia to JBHA.

  • Students may travel to Barrack via bus, provided by the school. This bus is free for middle school students, and is subsidized for high school students.
  • Barrack is also easily accessible via the SEPTA rail system. Students living in Philadelphia are eligible for a voucher for public transportation from the city. A round-trip shuttle bus is provided from the Bryn Mawr train station to the school. Alternatively, it is only a 15 minute walk from the station to the school.

Starting a family does not mean that you have to give up the life you lead in the city. With the educational opportunities offered by Barrack Hebrew Academy, you can have the best of both worlds. You can continue to enjoy your exciting urban life, and your children can benefit from an outstanding, affordable private school education. My children do! For more information about JBHA, please feel free to contact¬†Jennifer Groen, JBHA’s Director of Admission and Strategic Engagement: [email protected] or 610-922-2350. She looks forward to hearing from you!

Losing my Seventh Grade Teacher: Stan Diamond (z’l)

Stan Diamond taught me about Civil Rights, Cuba and how to think for myself.

— by David Bedein (Akiba class of 1968)

This past Shabbat, when our family held its perennial discussion about our  apprehensions about  Iran, and the possibility of a nuclear threat, I told my cantankerous seventh grader, Ruchama about what it was like to be a seventh grader during the Cuban missile crisis, exactly fifty years ago  I talked to Ruchama about our Core class at Akiba, and about our seventh grade teacher, Mr. Stan Diamond, who taught us in the seventh grade about how to think for ourselves.

I distinctly remember the discussion in Mr. Diamond’s Core class like it was yesterday, almost verbatim, fifty years later.

I now know, from my work with people in traumatic situations, that you often remember the intimate details of traumas as they took place, especially when you experience such events at an impressionable age.

We were all frightened of what might happen.

I was already, at 12, following the news with great interest

Mr. Diamond asked us what we thought was going on.

More after the jump.
I stood up in class to say that  President Kennedy was fighting to stop Cuba’s Castro from violating international agreements – to which Mr. Diamond asked: “which international agreements?”, to which I
responded: “The Monroe Doctrine”, to which Mr. Diamond asked; “And who signed on to the Monroe Doctrine”, to which I responded: that the US declared the Monroe Doctrine to stop foreign powers from invading Latin America,  to which Mr. Diamond responded with a question: “So was there really an international agreement with another country that the US was responding to”, which made us realize that the US was acting on its own, for better or worse.

From that moment on, I was skeptical about the use of US power.

And throughout that year, as the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved itself, Mr. Diamond guided our class through the nascent civil rights movement.

Mr. Diamond introduced us to CORE, the Congress for Racial Equality, where he was active.

Mr. Diamond stressed, over and over, that civil rights was important because of the “dignity” that everyone deserved.

After Shabbat, I sent a letter to Mr. Diamond, asking if he remembered our lively discussion during the Cuban Missile Crisis exactly fifty years ago this week, and to thank Mr. Diamond, half a century later, for having the patience to inspire me and other  youngsters to develop an independent mind, and to rely on facts, not on assumptions, to understand what is going on around us.

Indeed, one of Mr. Diamond’s trademarks was to get us to write facts on 3 by 5 cards, with the fact on one side and the source on the other side.

One could easily say that Mr. Diamond planted in me the seeds to be the social worker and investigative reporter that I am today.

To this day, when I oversee students of investigative journalism, I invoke Mr. Diamond’s “fact card method” although no one would know what a 3 by 5 card looks like today.

But placing the fact next to the source represents the  basis of journalistic integrity

On Monday night, I helped an Ethiopian Israeli named Aleli Admasu, who was sworn in at the Knesset with a speech on the subject of “affirmative action” for Ethiopian Israelis, to give Ethiopians the
dignity that they deserve in Israeli society.

I was thinking of Stan Diamond at the Knesset.

And when I got back to the office, the first e-mail waiting there was a message from my sister, who learned at Akiba two years after me that Stan Diamond had died.

It was if Stan Diamond had visited my home, the Knesset, and my office, while en route to heaven.

At a funeral, a person’s body is buried. That person’s soul and legacy live on.

And so it will be with Stan Diamond, who will always be my seventh grade teacher, the man who taught us about Cuba, civil rights, dignity…and the importance of checking your sources.

Stan Diamond inspired young people to think for themselves.

That will be his legacy.

Israel Behind The News
Funds Needed to Continue Proactive News Investigations

  • Dangers of Further US Aid to the PLO Army
  • Threat of Planned PLO Army Deployment in Hebron and Jerusalem
  • UNRWA and PA for War Curriculum, financed by US and the West
  • Conflicts of Interests of Israeli businesses invested in the Palestinian Authority

Rabbis Bless Republican & Democratic National Conventions

Rabbis offered benedictions at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Last night Rabbi David Wolpe offered the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention, capping a night on the heels of the keynote speech by President Bill Clinton and the roll call vote which officially renominated President Barack Obama.

Rabbi David J. Wolpe is the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles and a Philadelphia native. He teaches modern Jewish religious thought at UCLA. He was a graduate of the Akiba Hebrew Academy’s class of 1976.

Jewish day school does more than educate. It helps shape character. Its influence reaches far beyond the years we spend at school. I am glad and grateful for my knowledge, pride and passion for Jewish life and that is my legacy from Akiba Hebrew Academy, now Barrack.

Rabbi Wolpe is the author of such books as Why Faith Matters, Why Be Jewish?, Healer of Shattered Hearts and the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. He was named #1 Pulpit Rabbi in the U.S. by Newsweek magazine, and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including The Jewish Week, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, and Beliefnet.com. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning and has been featured on the History Channel’s Mysteries of the Bible.

Last week, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik offered the benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Rabbi Soloveichik is the associate rabbi at Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, New York. His colleage, KJ’s spirtual leader, Rabbi Haskal Lookstein, is according to Mondoweiss “a sometime Obama ally. He [Rabbi Lookstein] delivered a prayer at the National Cathedral at the Obama Inaugural Run-up, and took heat from other Orthodox Jews for setting foot in a church. He attended the Rabin funeral with Bill Clinton. But Lookstein lately met with Obama and slammed him afterward.”