Sharing Stories Across Generations

By Rosie Gertzman

This spring, students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy Holocaust Education and Reflection Club (HEAR Club) loaded up a bus and headed to Wesley Enhanced Living (WEL) in Media, a senior living facility previously known as Martins Run. The eighth- through 11th-grade students embarked on a day of sharing, learning and growing with the WEL residents. It was a day filled with laughter, tears and thought-provoking questions. [Read more…]

World War II Treasures Discovered in a Shoebox

At the Passover Seder, we recite the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. For Marc Shatzman and his family, there is also another Passover story to tell — how Shatzman’s maternal grandfather, Bruno Elkan, celebrated Passover as a Jewish American soldier in Europe in 1945:

While I was in Belgium I attended a Seder given by the seven Jewish families left in town. … The stories they told me are hard to believe but I know they are true. How they managed to survive the Hitler regime is hard to comprehend. They were lovely people & I felt quite at home.

These words were written by Elkan to his future wife, Adele Berkowitz, in a letter dated March 30, 1945. In a subsequent letter, he mentions a young girl at the Seder, who told him things that “no human being can understand.”

Bruno Elkan during World War II.

Through his letters to Berkowitz, Elkan created a first-hand account of the life of an American soldier in Europe during World War II. Until recently, his prolific wartime correspondence dwelled in a shoebox in Marc Shatzman’s closet. Although Shatzman never met his grandfather — who survived the war, but died from an allergic reaction at an early age — he feels connected to him, in part because of their physical resemblance. [Read more…]

Cattle Car of Dreams on Display at Barrack

Every year, the Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia creates a special school legacy project, with the goal of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. One year, it was a flower garden dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. Another year, it was butterflies stenciled on the walls of the school stairwells, commemorating the poem The Butterfly, written by a young Holocaust victim, with the iconic line “I never saw another butterfly.”

Cattle Car of Dreams. Photo: Shira Stein.

And for 2017-2018, it is the Cattle Car of Dreams. At first, the project’s title seems a bit jarring. How could a vehicle that transported Jews to their deaths, obliterating their hopes for the future, be described as a “cattle car of dreams”? [Read more…]

State Sen. Daylin Leach at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

Join us for a community conversation with State Sen. Daylin Leach to discuss issues of great importance to day school families, including day school scholarships, safety and school resources. Don’t miss this special opportunity to personally meet with Sen. Leach, whose district includes Barrack and the Perelman Jewish Day School Stern Center. Be part of the conversation, and let your voice be heard!

Please RSVP to Michael Litchman, (610) 922-2335.

Barrack Students Visit Home of the Paper Clips Project

From left to right, Maddison Barrack, Rebecca Shaid, Sarah Scheinmann and Emma Dorsch.

When their plane touched down in Tennessee, Emma Dorsch, Sarah Scheinmann, Rebecca Shaid and Maddison Barrack — four high school students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia — did not realize that they were about to embark on a life-changing experience. Representing Barrack’s Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club, the girls would be attending a dedication at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee, home of the famous Paper Clips Project. [Read more…]

From Barrack to Broadway

David Treatman (left) and Alan Koolik (right), Columbia University students and theater producers in New York City.

David Treatman, a 2016 graduate of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy,  and and his business partner, Alan Koolik, are two of the youngest producers on the New York theater scene. They are students at Columbia University: Treatman, a sophomore, and Koolik, a junior. [Read more…]

Children Teach Us Something Important on the Basketball Court

I recently went to the Wells Fargo Center to watch some kids play a pickup game of basketball. It was not your typical basketball game, however, but not because the kids were playing on the home court of the Philadelphia 76ers. This was a game involving students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr and the Al Aqsa Islamic Academy in Philadelphia. It was also the bar mitzvah project of Ari Abramovitz, a middle-school student at Barrack. [Read more…]

JBHA Open House and IAC Eitanim: High School Leadership & Entrepreneurship Program

The Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy will have an open house and host the IAC. The Israeli American Council’s Eitanim program is a unique leadership and entrepreneurship project-based program for high school students, 9th-12th grade. IAC Eitanim allows the students to connect, explore, and experience Israel while preparing for college and developing professional skills.The program develops students’ creativity, self-learning skills, team-work skills, and a connection to Israel through real world challenges, while working with experts on creative ideas and innovative solutions and technologies.

Introductory meeting: Thursday 10/27 @ 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
First three sessions: 11/7, 12/18, 1/12 @ 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Second three sessions: 2/9, 3/16, 4/20 @ 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Third three sessions: 5/11, 6/1, 6/[email protected] 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

• The program includes 10 mandatory sessions and an optional summer summit
All sessions of the program are held in English and will take place at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

• If you have any questions about the registration, feel free to contact Sharona Durry – [email protected] or call 267-250-3835

Michael Steinhardt: Keynote Speaker at Barrack Hebrew Academy

unnamedHow do we ensure the continuation of the Jewish people? This is the question that consumes Michael Steinhardt. Mr. Steinhardt is this year’s keynote speaker at the Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy’s gala.

Michael Steinhardt’s connection to Philadelphia began with his education at Penn, where he earned a degree from Wharton. After making his fortune on Wall Street, Mr. Steinhardt decided to focus full time on his passion for the Jewish world. He created the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. Among many other initiatives, he was one of the founders of Birthright.

Mr. Steinhardt sees a bifurcation in the American Jewish community today. “Virtually 100% of Orthodox students attend day school,” he said. “Among the non-Orthodox Jews, attendance is between 5% to 10%.” He would love to see more non-Orthodox Jewish students getting a really excellent education in day schools. It is his fervent hope that the future generations of Jews will care about Judaism and Israel, and will be able to express this in fluent Hebrew!

“The Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy is a shining light,” Mr. Steinhardt told me. “It is an example for all the other Jewish schools to emulate.”

March 9, 2016
Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue | 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

  • 5:30 p.m. Cocktails & Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. Program
  • 8:15 p.m. Dessert

Purchase gala tickets.