Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy was originally founded in 1946 as Akiba Hebrew Academy. The founders envisioned a school where Jewish adolescents would experience a dual curriculum of secular and Jewish studies; prepare for leadership roles in the Jewish community and the community at large; and come together to study their common heritage, living Jewish values in a pluralistic and mutually respectful setting.
On September 11, 1946, 20 boys and girls, the principal Mr. Oscar Divinsky and five teachers assembled in a room at the YMHA at Broad and Pine Streets where space had been rented to house the school. When the first class of 13 students graduated in 1951, the school population had grown to 100 students. The school relocated a number of times to accommodate the growing student body: to B'nai Jeshurun Synagogue in Strawberry Mansion in 1948; to Har Zion Temple in Wynnewood in 1954; and to a 4.5-acre campus in Merion Station in 1956, the school's home for 52 years.
Change and Growth
In March 2007, the school received a very generous gift of five million dollars from the Barrack Foundation, the majority of funds to be used for scholarships. In September 2007, the school was renamed the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in memory of the late brother of Leonard Barrack, an alumnus and school benefactor, Class of 1960.
Exciting changes continued when in June 2007, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia purchased the 35-acre American College Campus in Bryn Mawr, a new hub of Jewish education and life. Barrack Hebrew Academy became the educational anchor of the new campus and moved into state-of-the-art facilities in September 2008.
A community ceremony in December 2012 marked the unification of the Robert Saligman Middle School located in Melrose Park and the Barrack Hebrew Academy Middle School. The Robert Saligman Middle School of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy combines the best educational practices of both schools and opened on the Bryn Mawr campus in September 2013.
"Building on an illustrious past, Barrack Hebrew Academy continues to educate the next generation of Jewish leaders and shape the future..."