At Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, we teach our students acceptance and kindness and inspire them to build a better world. Our Derech Eretz Pledge, based on our deeply rooted Jewish values, includes honor, courage, kindness, and community. We honor by showing respect. We act with moral courage when we act on principle. We show kindness when we are thoughtful and accepting. We build community when we encourage equity and inclusion.
We celebrate the diversity within the Jewish people. We are committed to creating an environment in which every member of our community: faculty, staff, students and families, feels welcomed and embraced, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, learning style, political beliefs, level of observance, or physical abilities. We teach our students to respect our differences, recognize our similarities, and admire each individual’s unique abilities and talents. We encourage civil discourse and respect. We believe that each person’s opinion should be heard and valued.
We also celebrate the diversity within American society and the world. We teach that racism and other forms of intolerance are unacceptable in our community. As part of our instruction of the history of the United States, we explore the impact of systemic racism, both historically and in our present day. In our pluralistic school, our curriculum exposes students to a wide range of cultural and intellectual viewpoints. Above all, we teach our students that diversity, equity, and inclusion are included in our duty of tikkun olam. We are required to repair the world, to stand against injustice, to care for our fellow citizens, and to learn from each other along the way. Holding the Jewish values of both loving your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) and that all Jews are responsible for one another (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 27b), we must work towards social justice and equality for all people. We recognize that many differing approaches to these goals exist and that we must be open to this diversity in thought, even as we agree on the importance of the work. The work is ongoing and so we aspire to fulfill the charge found in Pirkei Avot/ 2:16 פרק׳ אבוה
It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.
לא עליך המלאכה לגמר, ולא אתה בן חורין לבטל ממנה
We recognize the unique history of the Jewish people as a people with ancient roots, who learned to adapt and develop, experiencing eras of flourishing despite also experiencing terrible persecution and marginalization. We also recognize and value the kinship and connection binding us together as Jews. This history gives our school a special insight whereby we can teach about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in a way that is both universal and deeply personal.