On June 15, 2020, 60 members of the Class of 2020 officially joined the ranks of the 2900+ Akiba-Barrack alumni. Like so many events this year, plans for a traditional commencement ceremony were upended by the coronavirus pandemic; however, the community’s determination to have some form of in-person celebration led to a joyous “drive-in graduation” that kept some traditions intact while incorporating unique surprises as well.
Parents and siblings were invited to join seniors for an outdoor “drive-in” ceremony in the Barrack parking lot to watch the speakers, a video montage and personalized greetings and congratulations from a broad range of notable public figures from a safe distance. Those wishing our Barrack graduates good luck included Chief CNN Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper ‘87; Eagles’ General Manager Howie Roseman; musician and activist Meek Mill; actor and producer Jeff Bridges; Speaker of the PA House of Representatives Mike Turzai; and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, among others! Seniors were called up to the stage to accept their diploma from a masked Head of School Sharon Levin (who missed being able to hug each student).
This year’s commencement speaker, Jewish leadership professional Wendy Rosov ‘82, was not able to travel from California for the ceremony, so seniors’ families and faculty members joined her online on June 11 for an early "taste" of commencement. Wendy spoke about her experience at Akiba/Barrack and how its mission as a pluralistic institution has been essential from the time of its founding to today. Following her talk, there was time for Q&A while senior families enjoyed a special dessert that was delivered to their homes for the occasion.
Though the celebration of this year’s seniors took an unconventional form, the love, excitement, and kehillah that marked the occasion were as strong as ever. A special Mazal Tov to our graduates and their families — this will be a graduation to remember!
Photos, videos, and speakers’ transcripts from the event are available on our Commencement webpage.