Jewish National Fund-USA and Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (Barrack) are pleased to announce the establishment of the largest-ever endowment of its type, ensuring the continuity and vibrancy of Philadelphia’s Jewish community through immersive Israel education.
Regarded as one of America’s preeminent Jewish day schools, Barrack (formally known as Akiba) provides students with an outstanding secular and Jewish education. Together with Jewish National Fund-USA, this philanthropic partnership will provide students with a firm foundation for future success in their academic pursuits while fostering a proud Jewish identity.
The generous $10 million endowment in support of Philadelphia’s Jewish community will provide every student at Barrack with a significant subsidy and the opportunity to study abroad at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss), continuing Barrack’s proud, decades-long tradition of sending students to Israel for academic, spiritual, and experiential enrichment. Through philanthropic gifts from Leonard Barrack and the Max and Bella Stein Charitable Trust (Stein Trust), as well as additional donors from the Barrack community, and matched by Jewish National Fund-USA, Barrack students will learn about their Jewish heritage firsthand by spending a semester in Israel in 11th grade.
Studying abroad is an immersive educational experience where students develop essential life skills critical for their future careers and is an impressive accolade on any college application or resume.
Len Barrack explained, “Alexander Muss High School in Israel is a crucial component to an educational program seeking to connect students to the land of Israel and the Jewish people.” He added, “Barrack and Jewish National Fund-USA will enable students to have this experience at very little or no cost to them.”
Mike Stein, trustee of the Stein Trust, said, “I wish I’d had a semester in Israel when I went to Akiba (Barrack). My daughter’s time at Muss transformed her, and in a way, it transformed me. It gave power to the notion that Jews are connected and take care of each other.”
Juliet Stein, Barrack ’07, added, “Muss is redefining education. There is no other international program where you learn Jewish history in the morning and visit the site of the discussed event in the afternoon. This is a hands-on, all-in experience that we carry throughout the rest of our lives.”
“Ask Jewish communal leaders when they first felt connected to Zionism, and many will say a long-term program in Israel,” explained Chair of the Board of Governors of Alexander Muss High School in Israel, Joseph Wolfson, Esq. “But the past 20 years have seen an 80% decline in Jewish teens embarking on long-term Israel programs, even though they remain the best way to create lasting connections between Jewish teens, Israel, and their communities, by far the best return on investment.”
Barrack Head of School Rabbi Marshall Lesack, Barrack ’97, said, “Nurturing a strong connection between students and Israel is central to our mission. As they develop their own Jewish and Zionist identities, our partnership with Jewish National Fund-USA ensures students can study in Israel and learn about our history right where it happened.”
The Jewish National Fund-USA-Barrack partnership is a young leadership ‘feeder’ for the Jewish community. “Their contribution helps Barrack foster Jewish leaders as the school competes with the best-of-the-best local secular academic institutions,” added Wolfson. “In addition to a top college prep curriculum and a solid Jewish education, Barrack’s Israel program encourages a passion for Israel that they will pass on to their children and children’s children.”
Alexander Muss High School in Israel, now operated by Jewish National Fund-USA, has educated almost 40,000 international students for over 50 years. Students learn Jewish and Israeli history through a unique immersive experience in addition to the academic curriculum at home. Living abroad, students demonstrate personal responsibility and a mature commitment to education before graduating high school and become proud, informed Jewish and Zionist advocates when they enter college.