The creation of a new home for a community institution is, by definition, a cause for celebration. And that was certainly the case this past Sunday when the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy dedicated its new campus in Bryn Mawr.
The Academy was already a highly regarded school, but the impressive new facility will only add to its allure. The building and the beautiful surrounding fields will, no doubt, add to the educational experience for its students. Barrack will serve as the anchor of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's new Radnor campus and be an important part of the necessary infrastructure to help Jewish life in this region thrive.
Things are looking up for the school which, in addition to its new digs, not long ago received a large gift from the Barrack family that will primarily fund scholarships. As a pluralistic Jewish high school with the highest possible academic standards, the Academy is a model for the day-school movement around the country and a precious asset to Greater Philadelphia Jewish life.
But, as happy as we must be about the upbeat developments at Barrack, no one should be deceived into thinking that the strengthening of this one school satisfies the community's responsibility to prioritize Jewish education. As proud as we may be of all of our day schools, the fact remains that the prohibitive cost of tuition at each of these vital institutions remains a daunting problem.
So long as day schools, which are our best possible investment in the Jewish future, are largely unaffordable to most middle-class families, no one should pretend we are doing all that must be done to ensure the future of this community. Unless and until sufficient funds are raised to lower the financial barrier to quality Jewish education, we will have failed in our duty to create a system that serves every child, regardless of their parents' wealth.