Jewish Life at Barrack
Each encounter with Judaism deepens their connections to their classmates, the community, and their own Jewish spirit and spirituality. Participating in daily tefillot (prayer) with their peers, celebrating the coming of Shabbat with our weekly “shmooze” at Friday break, and sharing in acts of hesed (loving-kindness) enriches our students' appreciation of their Jewish values.
Our students mirror the world with their wide range of religious backgrounds and observances, from traditional and ritual to cultural and secular. All food served at school events is strictly kosher, and school events, such as games and performances, don’t begin on Saturday nights until well after sundown. We are likewise committed to creating an environment where students of all Jewish backgrounds feel comfortable sitting together at lunch, collaborating on homework, and demonstrating the respect they build for each other.
Our shabbatonim (grade-wide weekend retreats) are a unique way for classmates to relax and get to know each other in a much deeper way. Each year, the shabbaton lets them spend time together at a relaxed pace as a grade and as part of a tight-knit student community. While honoring different ways of observing Shabbat, we emphasize community throughout every activity. Our seniors who are selected for the Jewish Leadership Initiative (JLI—see sidebar) serve as role models and build leadership skills by planning and running shabbatonim.
In keeping with our school's commitment to pluralism, we nurture our students' Jewish identities and relationships with prayer by matching their interests and abilities with the varied offerings in our Shaharit program. Students learn to appreciate a wide range of spiritual expression in Jewish tradition through opportunities for skill building and spiritual reflection in each Shaharit group. Students join Shaharit groups that fit them best and each group is led by a facilitator and students who share similar interests.
Students lead all of our services, read from the Torah, and give talks about the weekly Torah reading. Our Jewish Leadership Initiative (JLI) role models work together with their adult supervisors to make connections with younger students and encourage spirited prayer and participation.
The vibrant spirit of hagim (holiday) celebrations is what makes a Jewish day school education at Barrack so very different from other schools. Both inside and outside of the classroom, we make sure that each student feels a connection to the rhythms of the Jewish year by focusing on the deeper meaning of our holidays and how they inform our spiritual selves. Holidays here organically fit into the context of their lives, giving them diverse, meaningful connections to our traditions and to their own spirituality.
Jewish Leadership Initiative
The Jewish Leadership Initiative (JLI) is a selective program that provides a rich opportunity for 11th and 12th graders to explore their own leadership capacity while shaping Jewish life programming at Barrack. Using the Jewish calendar and grade-wide shabbatonim as learning labs, JLI students examine their own identities, strengths, and values, as well as areas for school community growth. Members of JLI receive training in goal and vision setting, program facilitation, fundraising, and community organizing.
In the spring, students focus primarily on their own skill development by creating a class leadership rubric, developing a journal, and beginning to envision and execute programming for the student body. Upon returning to school in the fall, shabbatonim and holiday programming schedule fulfillment begins.
Graduates of JLI go on to use their newly acquired skills to uplift and inspire their local Jewish communities while remaining connected to each other and to Barrack.