Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy is a coeducational college-preparatory and religiously pluralistic Jewish day school for grades 6 through 12, located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
272 S Bryn Mawr Avenue


Coordinates40.016786°N 75.327536°W / 40.016786; -75.327536
TypePrivate, Jewish day school
Religious affiliation(s)Jewish
Head of schoolMrs. Sharon P. Levin
Enrollment380 total
255 Upper School
125 Middle School
Student to teacher ratio13:1
Color(s)Blue and White
Athletics conferenceTri-County Independent School League (boys' sports)
Penn-Jersey Athletic Association (girls' sports)

Founded in Center City, Philadelphia in 1946 as Akiba Hebrew Academy, the school renamed itself in 2007. It is the oldest pluralistic Jewish secondary school in the United States.[1]

Current School

Barrack Hebrew Academy is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools.[2]

Barrack men's sports teams (the Cougars) participate in the Tri-County Independent School League (TCISL). The girl's teams are members of TCISL as well as the Penn-Jersey Athletic Association. The school has 10 male and female varsity sports teams.

Sharon P. Levin is the current head of school. She was proceeded by Dr. Steven Brown, Rabbi Phillip Field, Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, and Dr. Steven Lorch.


Center City and Wynnefield, 1946-1956

Akiba Hebrew Academy was founded in 1946 by Dr. Joseph Levitsky, and co-founded by Rabbi Simon Greenberg, Rabbi Elias Charry, and Dr. Leo L. Honor. The school was originally located at the YM & YWHA at Broad and Pine Streets in Center City, Philadelphia. The first class consisted of 20 boys and girls.

After four years at that site, Akiba moved to the Har Zion Temple at 54th and Wynnefield Avenues, where it was located until 1958.[3]

Merion, 1956-2008

In 1956, Akiba purchased a 5.3-acre (21,000 m2) property off North Highland Avenue in Merion Station, on the Main Line. The property had once been part of a large estate called "Ashdale," which had been built by William Simpson, a 19th-century insurance entrepreneur. After Simpson's death in 1909, his family broke up the estate, and the McMenamin family purchased a 5.3-acre (21,000 m2) section on which they built a mansion that they named "Drake Linden Hall." When Akiba purchased the mansion in 1956, the bedrooms were converted into classrooms.

Akiba Hebrew Academy was originally named for Rabbi Akiba. The school was approached by the Perelman Family Foundation in 1999 and offered a $2.0 million donation on condition that the school change its name to honor the Perelman family. After vocal student objections, Akiba was compelled to decline the offer.[4] In February 2007, the school accepted a gift of $5 million from The Barrack Foundation and renamed itself "Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy".[5] The school was officially renamed on September 10, 2007 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Radnor Campus in Bryn Mawr.[6]

In September 2008, Akiba sold the property to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for $4 million. At the time of sale, the mansion measured 20,247 square feet (1,881.0 m2), including additions made in the mid-1970s, the gym, and the "new" classrooms building.[7] Kohelet Yeshiva High School purchased the mansion in 2010 and has since renovated it and the adjoining buildings.[8]

Bryn Mawr, 2008-present

In July 2007, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia announced the purchase of the campus of American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The American College site is 35 acres (140,000 m2) on Bryn Mawr Avenue in Radnor Township.[9] The school inaugurated the new building with a "Hanukat HaBayit" on September 14, 2008[10] at which U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak addressed the crowd.[11] Barrack dedicated a new multipurpose athletic field with artificial turf and high school soccer and lacrosse lines in September 2018.[12]

The Head of School is Mrs. Sharon P. Levin who has served in the position since 2011.[13]

Notable alumni


  1. Hahn Tapper, Aaron J. (June 7, 2016). Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities. Univ of California Press. p. 235. ISBN 0520281357.
  2. Private Secondary Schools: Traditional Day and Boarding Schools: Part II of V. Peterson's. May 1, 2011.
  3. Klein, Esther M. (1965). A Guidebook to Jewish Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Jewish Times Institute. pp. 171 and 172.
  4. Fried, Stephen (August 13, 2002). The New Rabbi. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 0553897128.
  5. Robinson, David (July 12, 2007). "New location and name planned for Akiba Hebrew Academy". The Main Line Times. Ardmore. p. Volume 77, No. 28, 10.
  6. Mostovy-Eisenberg, Michelle (September 13, 2007). "New Name Gets Inaugurated at Day School". The Jewish Exponent. Philadelphia.
  7. Natalie Kostelini, "Hebrew Academy is sold", Philadelphia Business Journal, September 19–25, 2008, volume 27, number 31, page 10.
  8. Schwartzman, Bryan (2004-03-19). "Stern Hebrew High School Set to Occupy Former Akiba Building". Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  9. Richard Ilgenfritz, "Akiba to head to American College Site" The Main Line Times, (Volume 77, No. 28, July 12, 2007 - July 18, 2007) pages 1 and 2.
  10. "Back to School at the New Barrack Academy". Jewish Exponent. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  11. Dworkin, Jonathon (2008-09-14). "Congressman Sestak speaks at Dedication of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy; Praises school for values it teaches". Joe Sestak. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  12. "Barrack Dedicates New Multipurpose Field". Jewish Exponent. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. September 20, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  13. "New Leadership at Barrack". 2011-07-01.
  14. Elkin, Michael (2009-09-03). "Stars of David". The Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
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