Akiba Hebrew Academy (Merion, Pennsylvania)

Akiba Hebrew Academy (Merion, Pennsylvania)

Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy is a pluralistic Jewish Day School, for grades 6 to 12, located in Merion, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1946. The enrollment was 318 students in the 2007-2008 school year. On October 25, 2007 the school officially announced its selection of a new headmaster to replace retiring headmaster Rabbi Phillip Field. Dr. Steven Michael Brown began as the new headmaster on July 1, 2008.

Name Change

In February 2007, Akiba accepted a gift of $5 million from The Barrack Foundation headed by Leonard and Lynne Barrack. Akiba agreed to change its name to the "Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy" named in honor of Leonard Barrack's deceased brother. Leonard Barrack became president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in the fall 2007. [David Robinson, "New location and name planned for Akiba Hebrew Academy" "The Main Line Times", (Volume 77, No. 28, July 12, 2007 - July 18, 2007) page 10. ] The new name was inaugurated on September 10, 2007 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Radnor Campus in Bryn Mawr. [Michelle Mostovy-Eisenberg, "New Name Gets Inaugurated at Day School" "The Jewish Exponent", September 13, 2007.]

Location Change

In July 2007, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia announced that it had purchased the former American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The American College site is 35-acres on Bryn Mawr Avenue in Radnor Township. Akiba is its first tenant. [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. ] The school inaugurated the new building with a "Hanukat HaBayit" on September 14, 2008 [cite news | first=| last=| coauthors= | title=Back to School at the New Barrack Academy| date=2008-09-11 | publisher=Jewish Exponent | url =http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/17030/| work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-02 | language = ] at which U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak addressed the crowd. [cite news | first=Jonathon| last=Dworkin| coauthors= | title=Congressman Sestak speaks at Dedication of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy; Praises school for values it teaches | date=2008-09-14 | publisher=Joe Sestak|url=http://sestak.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa07_sestak/080914_Barrack.shtml| work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-02 | language = ]


Akiba was founded by Dr. Joseph Levitsky and co-founded by Rabbi Simon Greenberg, Rabbi Elias Charry, and Dr. Leo L. Honor. The school first met at the YM & YWHA at Broad and Pine Streets in Center City, Philadelphia. The first class had 20 boys and girls. Akiba spent four years at the YM & YWHA before it moved to Har Zion Temple at 54th and Wynnefield Avenues where it was located until 1958. [Esther M. Klein, "A Guidebook to Jewish Philadelphia", (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Jewish Times Institute, 1965) pages 171 and 172. ] In 1956, Akiba purchased a 5.3 acre property off North Highland Avenue in Merion Station, across City Line Avenue, on the Main Line. The property had once been part of a large estate, "Ashdale". Ashdale had been built by William Simpson, an insurance entrepreneur in the 19th-century. After Simpson's death, his family broke up the estate in 1909. The McMenamin family purchased a 5.3 acre portion, on which they built a mansion which they named "Drake Linden Hall". Akiba housed its growing school in the mansion itself, converting bedrooms into classrooms for Hebrew instruction. Akiba sold this property to local Orthodox Hebrew day school, Torah Academy, for $4.0 million in September 2008. At the time of sale, the Drake Linden Hall building was listed at 20,247 square feet. The sale included the additions made in the mid-1970s, the gym and "new" classrooms building. [Natalie Kostelini, "Hebrew Academy is sold", Philadelphia Business Journal, September 19-25, 2008, volume 27, number 31, page 10.]


Well known :Category:Akiba Hebrew Academy alumni
include writer Mitch Albom, ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper, Deputy Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Josh Shapiro, Jewish Telegraphic Agency editor-in-chief Ami Eden, scientist Dan Bricklin, political columnist Samuel Abrams, television producer Yoshi Stone, author David Wolpe, 610 WIP (AM) sports radio host Rob Charry, and actor Gideon Glick.


Akiba 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 League. Akiba's men's basketball team last won the championship in 1997 defeating Phelps Academy in a dramatic, come from behind win. The 1997 team was captained by Marshall Lesack and Nati Passow.

Drama Department

This years middle school musical will be Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Dewey Oriente. Dewey Oriente is a county renowned actor, known to be in many plays,and especially for his outstanding performance in The Little Mermaid.The Upper School musical will be "Oklahoma!", also directed by Oriente.and the ARC Performance will be Our Town directed by Dewey Oriente. It will be performed at the new Bryn Mawr campus on November 26-29. The Upper School Drama is "Barefoot in the Park", directed by Adi Stein.

External links

* [http://www.jbha.org/ - Official school web-site]


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