It was all hard hats and "Hatikvah" last Monday in Bryn Mawr at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Raymond and Ethel Goldberg Tennis Center on the future campus of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, formerly Akiba Hebrew Academy.
Board of directors president Jay Dorsch led the May 12 ceremony, which included remarks from several Barrack co-chairs and community leaders. Dorsch said that the event "symbolically broke ground" on what he called the area's "future hub of Jewish life, learning, leadership and excellence in education."
The 35-acre facility -- formerly the site of the American College -- was purchased last July for $30 million by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The tennis center is the only new construction being done at the facility, the rest of which is being renovated. Additionally, multipurpose playing fields will be constructed adjacent to the courts, all of which will complement one of the campus' major amenities: the construction of a new 21/2-story gymnasium, which is being made possible by the removal of the upper portion of a former administrative building.
Barrack's capital campaign chair, Carole Ben-Maimon, said that the school's building efforts were well on track, and that fundraising had already brought in more than half of the $15 million phase-one goal.
"A campus like this allows us to expand our reach, even for students who don't go to Jewish day schools," she said.
Head of school-elect Steven M. Brown gave a short d'var Torah in which he likened Barrack's new facilities to Jacob's ladder, as a link between heaven and earth, calling the school a place to examine "what we are, in the light of what we should be."
After breaking ground, several co-chairs, students and alumni also signed a ceremonial beam in honor of the occasion.
Current and former students attended the event, including junior Rebecca Abramson who, despite not having yet seen the new facilities firsthand, said that she was sure they'd provide "lots of great opportunities."