Rabbi Marshall Lesack is the head of school at Barrack Hebrew Academy, as well as an alum. He is passionate about Jewish day school education and strives to create environments and communities where young people are valued, supported, and motivated to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Cultivating Lifelong Connections: A Commitment to Alumni Engagement

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At Barrack, our alumni are an integral part of the ongoing story of our school. With over 75 years and an alumni network of nearly 3,000, we are committed to connecting all Akiba/Barrack alumni to their roots as well as to the dynamic present reality of the Barrack experience. As a vibrant center for academic excellence and Jewish communal engagement, our lifelong connections with Akiba/Barrack alumni facilitate meaningful opportunities for shared growth and mutual enrichment long after they leave our classrooms.

We have implemented several new initiatives within the past year to further our commitment to alumni engagement and harness the rich resources of our alumni network:

  • We hired a dedicated alumni engagement coordinator to nurture and strengthen our connection with our graduates and reaffirm our commitment to our students past and present.
     
  • We conducted a formal survey of our alumni community, seeking feedback on what initiatives and opportunities would keep them engaged and connected with the school. 
     
  • We have implemented a six-person alumni leadership committee, representing different time spans of our school’s graduates, including one member in Israel. We are building a smaller subcommittee based in Israel to support and engage our alumni presence there. 
     
  • We are revamping and refining our alumni directory, creating a secure portal that lives on our school website to facilitate connections. Our first step in this effort was to build a short alumni opt-in survey.
     
  • We are developing a robust mentoring platform for networking between established professionals and younger alumni seeking guidance and support in a variety of fields. 
     
  • Beginning this fall, we will publish a quarterly spotlight series showcasing several alumni in each issue. 
     
  • We are investing in programming that brings alumni back to campus in meaningful mentorship capacities. We hosted our first annual Career Day for our upper school students, a school wide Science Conference focused on breakthroughs in modern medicine, and a virtual panel featuring judges and practicing attorneys aimed at current upper school students and young alumni who are considering a career in law. We also held an accredited Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program co-led by our head of school, Rabbi Marshall Lesack, and Rabbi Dr. Zev Eleff, president of Gratz College, at which several alumni were in attendance. 
     
  • We have also created opportunities for alumni programming that complements campus events. For example, we held a 3v3 alumni basketball tournament as part of our student-run Mini-THON event in May. This both engaged our alumni in the important student initiative to raise funds for a good cause while bringing them back to campus to feel connected to current Barrack life.
     
  • We have established an ongoing Alumni Speaker Series, featuring exceptional presentations—both in person and over Zoom—by Hustle film director Jeremiah Zagar ’99, and moderated by Dan Kitrosser ’02, as well as by Dr. Paul Root Wolpe ’74, who addressed artificial intelligence from a Jewish perspective. We also hosted three alumni speaker programs last year on The Future of Jewish Life in America, Truth and Storytelling in the Media, and a spotlight session with film editor Fred Raskin ’91.
     
  • We have recommitted to our Athletic Hall of Fame and planned a banquet where graduating senior athletes will receive awards and alumni athletes will be inducted. 
     
  • We are planning reunion opportunities for alumni to gather and connect, both in person and virtually at Barrack-sponsored events in several locations, including a possible alumni event in Israel.

It has been heartening to see how even these early initiatives have yielded further engagement and opportunity on behalf of our alumni. Individuals from various chapters of Akiba/Barrack’s history have reached out to learn more about how they can connect with our school community and ongoing campus life. We are committed to cultivating enduring relationships with our Akiba/Barrack alumni, both to nurture their lifelong learning and Jewish engagement as well as to create meaningful opportunities for them to give back to future generations of Jewish leaders.