Students celebrate Shabbat together throughout the year, both in school and during special weekend retreats Students and teachers in Jewish studies and Biblical studies classes often mark the coming of Shabbat by lighting candles and singing together and by looking at special passages from that week’s Torah reading. Shabbatonim provide an opportunity for students and teachers in each class to spend time together, experiencing the pleasures of Shabbat in a communal setting, and by enjoying informal activities centered on a set of timely themes. A select group of seniors who are members of the JLI (Jewish Leadership Initiative) provide moral and spiritual leadership and serve as positive Jewish role models for students attending the Shabbaton programs.
Jewish holidays help to shape the rhythm of student life at Barrack. In the time of solemnity of the High Holidays each fall, "teshuvah-grams" allow students and teachers to send resolutions to one another. Apples and honey bring sweetness, and assemblies provide a sense of focus at the start of the new year. Lively Sukkot celebrations bring students together to the school's outdoor Sukkah to wave the four species of the lulav and etrog and even to build model Sukkot out of graham crackers and chocolate frosting!
Chanukah celebrations bring light to the school with jelly donuts, daily menorah lightings, songs and a sense of re-dedication to some of the same core Jewish values that the Maccabees promoted when they rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times.
Special assemblies and celebrations mark other holidays from Tu B'Shvat (the Jewish Arbor Day) to Purim, Passover and Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks). To mark Passover, a recent teach-in gave students the opportunity to choose to attend sessions on topics as diverse as natural imagery in the Haggadah, a human rights perspective on Passover, matzah-baking over coals in a hot oven outside, and an introduction to Sephardic Passover customs and songs.
The Holocaust Education Awareness group and the Israel Club lead the student body in recognizing Yom Ha-Shoa (Holocaust Memorial Day), Israeli Memorial Day and Israeli Independence Day. Students mark these days every year with school-wide guest speakers, music, special foods and, most importantly, the feeling of a strong sense of community.
Sixth grade students at Barrack participate in Teva Shomrei Adamah: Keepers of the Earth, a four day and four night program that includes an intensive environmental education experience alongside peers from other Jewish day schools. Students return to Barrack prepared to spearhead ecologically sound programs that include water preservation, recycling, and the greening of our school.